Congress, for the first time, overrode one of President Barack Obama’s vetoes. The bill — which now becomes law — allows 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia based on allegations it provided support to the terrorist attackers.
Obama argued the law makes U.S. officials vulnerable to similar lawsuits in foreign courts. Ninety-seven senators voted to overturn the veto Wednesday, including both Alaskans. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said it gives victims and their families an “avenue to justice.”
Alaska Congressman Don Young bucked the tide. He was one of only 18 Republicans in the House who voted to uphold Obama’s veto. His spokesman, Matt Shuckerow, says the Congressman voted for principle over politics.
“Many have made this vote (an) issue of overriding the president and overriding his veto rather than an examination of the legislation and the policy itself,” Shuckerow said.
In a written statement, Young says he sympathizes with the victims, but says the law allowing them to sue Saudi Arabia threatens national security and the safety of Americans deployed abroad. Shuckerow says Young would like to reverse many of Obama’s actions, but he agrees with Obama in opposing this bill.
“This was not a vote he took lightly but it was something that, given his concerns, the risk it posed to American military and intelligence personnel overseas, and the unintended consequences of this legislation … he could not support it,” Shuckerow said.
Congress is also on track to pass a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Both Alaska senators voted for the spending bill and the House was scheduled to vote on it Wednesday evening.