WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama intends to veto bipartisan legislation that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, according to the White House.
“So the President feels quite strongly about this. And our concern is not limited to the impact it could have on a relationship with one country, but rather it could have an impact on our relationship with every country around the world in a way that has negative consequences for the United States, for our national security, and for our men and women in uniform,” noted White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday.
“That is still the plan. The President does intend to veto this legislation,” responded Earnest when asked if Obama still planned to veto the bill.
The other concern that we have also articulated is that this law actually opens up the United States to risk being hauled into court in countries around the world. The concept of sovereign immunity is one that protects the United States as much as any other country in the world, given the way the United States is engaged in the world. So it’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. servicemembers, or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world.
On Monday, the six-member nation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), on which the Saudis play a leading role, came out against the legislation, saying it “contravenes the foundations and principles of relations between states, notably sovereign immunity.”
With strong support in the GOP-controlled Congress, the bipartisan bill, which would grant families of 9/11 victims the ability to sue Saudi Arabia for any alleged links to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, passed both the House and the Senate by a voice vote.
A presidential veto could push Congress to consider a veto override, a move that has not been successful during the current administration.
The bill passed in the House last Friday, days before the 15th year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In the Senate, the legislation was approved in May. President Obama had repeatedly indicated it would veto the bill before its passage.
Even top Democrats like New York Senator Charles Schumer urged the president to pass the bill.