It appears for once, the word (of some politicians) is mightier than the pen (of Obama). The White House has lashed out at The Senate's veto override, which Josh Earnest described as "the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done." As The Hill reports, in the most overwhelming vote (97-1) since 1983, President Obama's lame-duckedness was exposed and that enraged Obama (and his Saudi friends' money).
As The Hill detailed, Earnest’s unusually harsh words are an effort to shame lawmakers for their support for the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which passed unanimously through both chambers earlier this year. For weeks, White House officials have accused members of Congress of failing to publicly express the reservations about the measure that they have spoken about privately. Earnest seized on comments by made by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who told reporters that Judiciary Committee members didn’t pay much attention to the legislation until it came to the floor. Corker suggested senators backed the measure because no one wanted to break with 9/11 victims and their families who support the measure.
“To have members of the United States Senate only recently informed of the negative impact of this bill on our service members and our our diplomats is in itself embarrassing,” Earnest said.
“For those senators then to move forward on overriding the president’s veto that would prevent those negative consequences is an abdication of their basic responsibilities of representatives of the American people.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was the sole vote to sustain Obama’s veto.
Not a single Democrat came to the Senate floor before the vote to argue in favor of Obama’s position. Obama expressed grave concerns about the measure in his veto message last Friday, warning JASTA would improperly involve U.S. courts in national security matters, including whether foreign governments should be considered state sponsors of terror. He also said it would undermine the concept of sovereign immunity, putting American diplomats, military service members and government assets abroad at risk of legal action, should other countries pass reciprocal laws.
The White House is also wary of angering the Saudi government, which strongly opposes the bill. The U.S.-Saudi alliance has been tested under Obama’s watch, especially by last year’s nuclear deal with Iran. But the president’s strong objections fell on deaf ears in Congress, though Obama personally convinced Reid to sustain his veto after a phone conversation and letter. But no other lawmakers were swayed by appeals from the president, his staff or representatives of the Saudi government, which lobbied against the bill.
Corker told reporters that Obama put virtually no effort into persuading lawmakers to sustain his veto.
“Hopefully, these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today,” Earnest said.