Matthew Vadum author image /

Another first was achieved in the Obama administration yesterday but it is not a first the president is happy about.

Congress successfully overrode President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, making the bill law without his signature. The veto was 12th of his presidency but the very first to be overridden.

The measure cleared the Senate on a vote of 97 to 1. The sole dissenter was Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who leaves office in a few months. The House vote was 348 to 77.

“This is what we have been fighting for over a decade,’’ said Terry Strada, head of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism.

“In our polarized politics of today, this is pretty much close to a miraculous occurrence,” said Senate Majority Leader John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) added, “We cannot in good conscience close the courthouse door to those families who have suffered unimaginable losses.”

The new statute allows lawsuits against the government of Saudi Arabia for its alleged involvement in 9/11 to move forward. The 9/11 commission failed to uncover evidence of Saudi government participation in the 9/11 attacks but survivors’ families and insurance companies reject that finding. Of the 19 hijackers who slammed jetliners into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a field in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001 were Saudi citizens.

“The measure essentially creates an exception to sovereign immunity, the doctrine that holds one country can’t be sued in another country’s courts,” according to USA Today. “It allows plaintiffs to sue other nations in U.S. federal courts for monetary damages in cases of injury, death or property damage caused by acts of international terrorism in the United States.”

Unaccustomed to not getting his way with Congress, a petulant President Obama scolded lawmakers.

Obama said the veto override was a “mistake” and “basically a political vote.”

“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,” Obama said. “But it would have been the right thing to do.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest condemned the override calling it “the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983.”

“Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today,” he said.

No one seems to have any idea what event in 1983 or later Earnest is talking about.

(graphic from: http://apgovernment2010.yolasite.com/ch12.php)