Yesterday, the big headline of the day was when the Republicans in the Senate, with the help of Senate Democrats, voted to override President Obama’s veto on legislation that would allow the victims of 9/11 to sue the Saudi government. After the Senate overrode the veto, the House too voted in favor of the legislation.
Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is having second thoughts and is blaming President Obama for not doing enough to stop Congress from making a mistake, saying the Justice Against Sponsors Of Terrorism Act (JASTA) may have unintended future consequences.
But it’s not the fault of the 97 Senators and 348 Representatives who voted in favor of overriding the President’s veto, or the fault of McConnell who led the charge, that blame lies at Obama’s feet, according to Sen. McConnell, Obama failed to “communicate early about the potential consequences,” adding:
I told the president the other day that this is an example of an issue that we should have talked about much earlier. It appears as if there may be some unintended ramifications of that and I do think it’s worth further discussing. But it was certainly not something that was going to be fixed this week.
When the President signed the veto he warned JASTA could expose the U.S. to counter lawsuits for “actions taken by members of an armed group that received U.S. assistance, misuse of U.S. military equipment by foreign forces, or abuses committed by police units that received U.S. training.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also warned on Tuesday, the day before the vote, that JASTA could have a negative impact on national security and servicemen and women. CIA Director John Brennan also warned that erasing the lines of international sovereignty could open the U.S. to countersuits.
Earnest responded to McConnell Thursday saying:
It’s hard to take at face value the suggestion that they were unaware of the consequences of their vote, but even if they were, what’s true in elementary school is true in the United States Congress: ignorance is not an excuse, particularly when it comes to our national security and the safety and security of our diplomats and our servicemembers.
McConnell said that no one in Congress had been abundantly warned of the potential ramifications:
Everybody was aware of who the potential beneficiaries were but no one had really focused on the potential downside in terms of our international relationships. And I think it was just a ball dropped. I hate to blame everything on him and I don’t, [but] it would have been helpful if we had a discussion about this much earlier than the last week.”
The ignorance here is staggering and frustrating. Anyone with a vague grasp of politics could see that bringing lawsuits of this nature against foreign government allies could have a multitude of negative outcomes in the future.
The Republicans used 9/11 victims as political ammo knowing Democrats would look bad if they voted against 9/11 families. And now that the vote has passed, McConnell is trying to cast this as “just another mistake by Obama” even though he did everything within his power to stop the legislation. It’s disgusting.
The Senate will now rework the legislation to avoid these “unintended ramifications” they were apparently too inept to predict, but will do everything they can to see that families can seek justice. But it will not be quickly forgotten that McConnell and Republicans in Congress will do just about anything to cast Obama in a bad light.
Featured image via Getty Images/Alex Wong