Legislators override President's veto, despite concerns over unintended consequences to foreign policy.
So the question is why did the measure receive such overwhelming support? No one can look into the minds of the lawmakers for their true feelings on the measure, but a confluence of events may give some insight.
First, there is little to no pressure being applied on the representatives from the general public for support of the measure. Most of the pressure comes from the group of 9/11 families who have been actively campaigning for some time.
Secondly, there was not a lot of debate and discussion about the bill on the legislative floors. The bill was weakened somewhat from its original position, in that a provision was added to allow the attorney general to ask a judge to stay any settlement arising from a lawsuit as long as there were continuing discussions going on, that could lead to a diplomatic resolution. The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill and send it to the House of Representatives in May of this year.
Also, a number of legislators expressed concerns over the bill, and some are already looking at ways to amend the bill to further weaken the efforts, but still they voted in favor of the current legislation. Reuters reports that 28 senators have written to the JASTA’s sponsors, Democrat Charles Schumer (NY) and Republican John Cornyn (TX), asking them to work with the senators to mitigate any unintended consequences involving national security or foreign policy.
One would have thought these issues, seemingly quite important, would have been discussed prior to voting on the bill.
Why did JASTA receive such support? Perhaps the fact that this is an election year played a prominent role in the passage. What legislator, up for re-election, would want to be portrayed by their opponent as being insensitive towards families of terrorist victims?
Even President Obama told CNN, “If you’re perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that’s a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do.”
The measure should contain the provisions the representatives are calling for before it was passed. No one wants to deprive justice to victims of terrorist attacks and their families. The Senate and the House should have done their homework better to provide a way to receive that justice without risks to our own country’s sovereignty.
As the president said, it would have been the right thing to do.