Congress Passes Saudi September 11 Bill, Rejects Obama’s Veto

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September 11 Arlington Memorial

Just four months to go until Obama ends his term as president, and Congress rejects his veto for the first time since he became president. As a result, the Saudi September 11 bill becomes law. Now, victims of the attacks that took place on September 11 can sue Saudi Arabia.

An overwhelming majority voted against the veto. Congress overturned Obama’s decision by 348-77 votes against.

The law could seriously affect diplomatic relations between the US and Saudi Arabia. The Middle Eastern Country has been one of America’s longstanding allies in the region. In the context of the intensifying conflict in against IS, the US cannot afford to lose any of its Middle Eastern allies.

Some lawmakers who actively supported the Saudi September 11 bill are already taking steps to look at the issue once more.

Obama once again stared that the law created a very dangerous precedent. In a CNN interview, the current president of the United States said, “”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”

Up until now, Democrats were on his side with respect to the veto. But as elections draw near, the Democrats decided to switch sides, and joined many Republicans in their quest to turn the bill into law.

One Democratic senator, Charles Schumer, felt it was the victims’ right to pursue justice. Sen. Schumer might have a personal connection to this decision as well. He is the representative of New York, where the September 11 attacks occurred.

It does seem like too much of a coincidence that Democrats chose to switch their somewhat unpopular vote in the eve of the elections. However, there are many other things that could have factored into the decision.

For one, Congress is increasingly displeased with Saudi Arabia’s recent conduct. They are worried the local government has started supporting a more radical form of Islam. The country hasn’t done much to ease the refugee crisis either.

September 11 Law Could Threaten National Security

The newly enacted law lifts Saudi Arabia’s sovereign immunity. The principle of sovereign immunity basically means that a country cannot commit a legal wrong. As such, no state can be prosecuted.

Saudi Arabian officials have denied it had anything to do with the September 11 attacks. Of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks, 15 were Saudi Arabian citizens.

On September 11, 2016, on the 15th anniversary of the attacks, victims of the attack gathered in front of the White House and the Capitol building, to protest the veto.

Obama is concerned that the law will expose US troops and officials abroad to legal attacks. The precedent created by the passing of this bill could encourage other countries to do the same.

At least 28 senators have already asked the supporter of the law to address the issue. They’ve requested that Schumer and Sen. John Cornyn come up with a plan to mitigate the potential negative effects of this law. It’s still too early to tell how this law will affect US foreign diplomatic relations, and national security.

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