The White House on Thursday lambasted Congress for having “buyer’s remorse” over controversial legislation that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest crowed after the top two Republican leaders suggested the measure needed changes less than 24 hours after Congress voted to override President Obama's veto.
“Well, it’s hard to know where to start,” Earnest said with a smile. “I think what we’ve seen in the United States Congress is a case of rapid-onset buyer's remorse.”
The White House vented its frustration after suffering a major defeat on Wednesday, when the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to overrule Obama’s veto for the first time.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Biden clarifies any Russian movement into Ukraine 'is an invasion' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) on Thursday both said the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) could have negative, unintended consequences that could put U.S. service members and diplomats abroad at risk of legal action.
Those are the same concerns that administration officials have expressed for months, making the situation especially frustrating in Earnest’s eyes.
He said it was “a hard suggestion to take seriously” when Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRepublicans, ideology, and demise of the state and local tax deduction Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force MORE (R-Tenn.) and others claimed some lawmakers did not fully understand what was in the measure before they passed it.
He cited letters from the president and other top national security officials to lawmakers that outlined the administration’s objections to the bills. Conversations with members of Congress have been taking place since April, Earnest said.
“What’s true in elementary school is true in the United States Congress: Ignorance is not an excuse,” Earnest said.
He called it “an abject embarrassment” that members are considering potential changes to the measure so soon after its passage.
Earnest suggested the White House is open to hearing fixes to the measure but acknowledged that with just a little more than three months left in Obama’s term, “It’s awfully late for changes.”