WHITE HOUSE: Senate override of 9/11 bill veto 'most embarrassing thing' lawmakers have done in decades

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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday called the Senate's override vote on legislation that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia the "most embarrassing thing" the legislative body has done in decades.

It's "the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983," he told reporters after news of the Senate's 97 to 1 vote broke earlier in the day.

Earnest was answering a question about the size of the override, which was the largest margin since the Senate voted in 1983 to override a veto by former President Ronald Reagan by a 95 to 0 spread.

The legislation was overridden by the House later Wednesday afternoon, which put the measure into law.

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Rebuilding the World Trade Center: 15 years after 9/11

A group of firefighters walk amid rubble near the base of the destroyed south tower of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. In the worst terror attack on the U.S. mainland in modern history, two hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and a third plane hit the Pentagon, across the Potomac river from Washington. REUTERS/Peter Morgan

Family members of the victims of the the attacks on the World Trade Center enter Ground Zero to pay their respects, September 11, 2003 in New York. U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday commemorated the attacks with subdued events of remembrance, as his government warned of possible bigger terror attacks. REUTERS/Stephen Chernin/POOL SC/GN
People gather at the World Trade center site in New York City, September 11, 2004 on the third anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers. This year, it is the parents and grandparents of World Trade Center victims who will read aloud the names of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Family members make their way down a ramp to the site of the former World Trade Center during ceremonies marking the fourth anniversary of the attack of the twin towers in New York September 11, 2005. Families of victims of the collapse of the World Trade Center were allowed down to two pools of water placed on the ground where the buildings once stood. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn GMH/VP
People gather around a reflecting pool at the bottom of the Ground Zero site of the World Trade Center on the fifth year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, September 11, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin World Trade Center towers in New York September 11, 2007 on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The first steel beams of the new Freedom Tower being constructed on the site are seen in the foreground. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin towers on the eighth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, September 11, 2009. Families of the victims are gathering at the annual ceremony to remember the attacks that killed more than 2,700 people with the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
Police and firefighters surround the reflecting pool at the World Trade Center site during 9/11 remembrance ceremonies in New York, September 11, 2010. REUTERS/Don Emmert/Pool 
The North Memorial Pool, with 1 World Trade Center under construction at rear, is pictured during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Deutsch/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANNIVERSARY DISASTER)
World Trade Center 1 looms over the north reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Allan Tannenbaum/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
The One World Trade Center building on the early morning of the 14th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks, on September 11, 2015 in New York.. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
The World Trade Center. New York.
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"I look forward to the opportunity for Congress to override the president's veto, provide these families with the chance to seek the justice they deserve and send a clear message that we will not tolerate those who finance terrorism in the United States," Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas said in a statement Friday after President Barack Obama vetoed the bill.

The override marked the first time that one of Obama's vetoes was overruled by Congress.

"This is a decision I do not take lightly," Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, one of the authors of this legislation, said. "This bill is near and dear to my heart as a New Yorker, because it would allow the victims of 9/11 to pursue some small measure of justice, finally giving them a legal avenue to pursue foreign sponsors of the terrorist attack that took from them the lives of their loved ones."

The legislation amends a 1976 law that granted other countries immunity from US lawsuits. If the House votes to override the veto, foreign countries could then be sued in federal court if they are found to have played any role in terror attacks that killed Americans within the US.

Obama vetoed the legislation because he feared that foreign countries could then take similar actions against Americans overseas, such as members of the military.

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