McConnell: Congress should discuss fixes to 9/11 law

U.S. Congress voted on Wednesday to override President Barack Obama's veto of the bill allowing families of the victims of the September 11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. Congress was right to override the veto.

Obama spoke about how the decision came at a hard time, right before the elections and after the 15th anniversary of 9/11. "But it would have been the right thing to do", he said on CNN. Obama vetoed the measure last week. But this time nearly all his strongest Democratic supporters in Congress joined Republicans to oppose him in one of their last actions before leaving Washington to campaign for the November 8 election.

"This is what we have been fighting for over a decade, " said Terry Strada, head of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism.

"The victims of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks have suffered such pain and heartache". Charles Schumer, the No. 2 New York Democrat in the chamber and a sponsor of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, told The Washington Times. But he said he doesn't believe the ability to sue Saudi Arabia will be good for the long term future of the US.

The problem is that law clearly violates the principle of sovereign immunity, which bars people from using their nation's court system to sue a foreign government. Riyadh, a key ally to the United States, has vehemently denied allegations that it was involved in the attacks, which left almost 3,000 people dead.

Fireman works on the roof of the Pentagon after a hijacked aircraft crashed into it, September 11, 2001.

But he also acknowledged that, in their zeal to support the families of 9/11 victims, lawmakers themselves did not fully consider the potential consequences of passing a bill that might leave the USA open to similar litigation. On Wednesday, two fire trucks displayed a giant USA flag outside the Senate.

"I'm willing to look at any proposal they make but not any that hurt the families", he said at a news conference. In a letter to Senate leaders, Obama warned the bill could cause chaos in USA foreign affairs, as other countries would use the measure to justify the creation of ways to target "U.S. policies and activities that they oppose". The sole dissenter was Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who leaves office in a few months.

Earnest said the president had publicly discussed the bill's potential negative impact in April.

Republican and Democratic representatives are now saying the measure, which will now allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for alleged involvement in the attacks, needs to be fixed.

The issue, however, may not be finished.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas is a member of the Republican Party.

  • Archie Newman