US Senate overwhelmingly rejects Obama veto of Saudi Sept. 11 bill

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate 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, paving the way for the first veto override of his eight-year presidency.

The final vote was 97-1 against the veto, a blow to Saudi Arabia, a frequent U.S. partner in the Middle East recently subject to harsh criticism in the U.S. Congress.

Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid was the only senator to side with Obama.

Most and least liked U.S. Senators

14 PHOTOS
Top most and least liked U.S. Senators
See Gallery
Top most and least liked U.S. Senators
Least Liked

10. Richard Durbin, Illinois

Disapprove: 38% 
Approve: 41%
No opinion: 21%

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Least Liked

9. Claire McCaskill, Missouri

Disapprove: 38% 
Approve: 46%
No opinion: 16%

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Least Liked

8. Joe Manchin, West Virginia

Disapprove: 38% 
Approve: 54%
No opinion: 7%

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Least Liked

7. David Vitter, Louisiana

Disapprove: 39% 
Approve: 42%
No opinion: 20%

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Least Liked

6. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina

Disapprove: 40% 
Approve: 45%
No opinion: 16%

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Least Liked

5. Marco Rubio, Florida

Disapprove: 41% 
Approve: 46%
No opinion: 13%

(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Least Liked

4. John McCain, Arizona

Disapprove: 42% 
Approve: 48%
No opinion: 9%

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Least Liked

2. Harry Reid, Nevada

Disapprove: 43% 
Approve: 44%
No opinion: 17%

(Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Most Liked

10. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota

Approve: 63%
Disapprove: 24%
No opinion: 13%

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Most Liked

9. Angus King, Maine

Approve: 63%
Disapprove: 26%
No opinion: 11%

(Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Most Liked

3. John Thune, South Dakota

Approve: 68%
Disapprove: 17%
No opinion: 15%

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Most Liked

2. Susan Collins, Maine

Approve: 69%
Disapprove: 21%
No opinion: 11%

(Photo by John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Most Liked

1. Bernie Sanders, Vermont

Approve: 87%
Disapprove: 12%
No opinion: 1%

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, a vice presidential nominee, and Bernie Sanders, an independent and former Democratic White House contender, did not vote.

The measure next goes to the House of Representatives, which is due to vote later on Wednesday.

If two-thirds of House members also support the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," known as JASTA, as expected, it would be the first veto override since Obama became president in 2009.

Obama's 11 previous vetos were all sustained. But this time almost all of his strongest supporters in Congress opposed him in one of their last actions before leaving Washington to campaign for the Nov. 8 election.

"Overriding a presidential veto is something we don't take lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts," Senator Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said in a statement.

Schumer represents New York, the site of the World Trade Center and home to many of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 2001 attacks, attack survivors and families of victims.

RELATED: Congress rejects Obama's veto on 9/11 bill

He led the fight for the legislation, with Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican. Kirsten Gillibrand, another New York Democrat, cast the 67th "no" vote, the number needed to override the veto in the Senate.

Obama had argued that JASTA could expose U.S. companies, troops and officials to lawsuits, and alienate important allies at a time of global unrest. He called Reid and wrote a personal letter to him explaining that he strongly believed enacting JASTA into law would be detrimental to U.S. interests.

The Saudi government financed an extensive lobbying campaign against the legislation.

Major U.S. corporations including General Electric Co and Dow Chemical Co also opposed it, as did the European Union and other U.S. allies.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter urged lawmakers to sustain the veto, and in an unusual move, CIA Director John Brennan said it had "grave implications" for national security.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners