Top GOP senator 'confident' of 9/11 bill veto override
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn Cornyn Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Trump struggles to reshape Fed Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks MORE voiced confidence on Monday that the chamber would override a promised veto from President Obama of legislation that allows the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts. 

"This would be the first one under this president and I think it would be well deserved," the Texas Republican, who helped spearhead the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), told reporters. 
Asked if he thought Obama's expected veto would be overridden by less than a unanimous vote, he added, "I can't imagine [why] if nobody objected to the bill. I don't know why they would change their vote on a veto override." 
White House press secretary Josh Earnest emphasized earlier Monday that Obama would veto the bill even though it sailed through Congress unanimously because of concerns that it would open up the United States to retaliatory lawsuits. 

Under current U.S. law, victims may sue a country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, such as Iran. The bill would allow citizens to sue countries without that designation, including Saudi Arabia. 

Though Obama is expected to continue lobbying against the bill even after he vetoes it, Cornyn appeared to close the door to negotiating changes to the legislation. 

"How do you compromise on something that passed unanimously in both houses?" he asked. 

Instead, the Texas Republican said the president should back away from the veto threat, adding that it is "baffling that... Obama would rather make life easier for state sponsors of terrorism than he would lend support to the families of 9/11." 

The fight over the legislation has pitted congressional Democrats against the president. 

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference Pelosi: Barr press briefing a 'staggering partisan effort' MORE (D-N.Y.), who worked with Cornyn on the bill and is expected to be the next Senate Democratic leader, and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to Obama on Friday urging him to support the legislation. 

The veto battle comes as the Senate, which is currently scheduled to be in session through the first week of October, is eying an early exit from Washington. The move would allow Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Overnight Health Care: McConnell offering bill to raise tobacco-buying age to 21 | NC gov vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill | CMS backs off controversial abortion proposal HR 1 brings successful local, state reforms to the federal level and deserves passage MORE (R-Ky.) to get his incumbents back on the campaign trail as his party defends 24 Senate seats in November.

Cornyn, however, predicted senators would remain in Washington until the president sends back the bill, adding "I'd presume we would not leave until we had the chance to vote on a veto override following the [continuing resolution]."