Congress on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation allowing relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, the first veto override of his presidency, just four months before it ends.
The House of Representatives voted 348-77 against the veto, hours after the Senate rejected it 97-1, meaning the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” will become law.
Obama tried to veto a bill passed by both houses of Congress that would allow survivors and families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for damages, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday.
“It’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world,” Earnest told reporters in a daily briefing.
“I do anticipate the president would veto this legislation when it is presented to him,” he said.
The House of Representatives passed the bill by voice vote, without objections, on Friday, after the Senate passed it unanimously in May, clearing the way for it to go to the White House for Obama to sign into law or veto.
U.S. officials said on Wednesday that Obama administration officials had begun considering tougher responses to the Russian-backed Syrian government assault on Aleppo, including military options, as rising tensions with Moscow diminish hopes for a diplomatic solution.
Ryabkov was quoted as saying that Moscow saw no alternative to an original U.S.-Russia plan to try to get a ceasefire in Syria and that Washington should focus on implementing it.
He said a seven-day ceasefire plan proposed by the United States was unacceptable however and that Moscow was proposing a 48-hour “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo instead.
Russia is outraged by the threatening tone of the latest U.S. statement on Syria, viewing it as tantamount to supporting terrorism, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday, according to Russian news agencies.
Ryabkov was referring to a statement made by U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby who said on Wednesday that Russia had an interest in stopping the violence in Syria because extremists could exploit the vacuum there and launch attacks “against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.”
“We cannot interpret this as anything else apart from the current U.S. administration’s de facto support for terrorism,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
“These thinly disguised invitations to use terrorism as a weapon against Russia show the political depths the current U.S. administration has stooped to in its approach to the Middle East and specifically to Syria.”