GOP senators: Obama rebuffed negotiations on 9/11 bill

GOP senators: Obama rebuffed negotiations on 9/11 bill
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Republicans who had hoped to work with the White House to secure changes to a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts say they have been rebuffed by President Obama.

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The administration has vowed to veto the legislation as-is.

“I am dumbfounded,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he will call Papadopoulos to testify GOP group defends Mueller ahead of testimony The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony MORE (R-S.C.), one of two leading GOP senators who have been looking into potential negotiations with the White House to resolve the its concerns.

“I can't feel a lot of energy coming from the White House on this issue,” said Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.), who said that the administration has not reached out to him about making any changes.

Graham said that he has reached out to the White House, but has not heard back.

The bill, the so-called Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), passed the House and the Senate unanimously, but is facing a veto from Obama this week.

The White House is concerned that the bill will open up the U.S. to retaliatory legal attacks, and has been lobbying lawmakers to abandon their support for the measure before the Senate takes up an expected veto override of the legislation.

“We continue to make our forceful, principled argument to members of Congress,” spokesman Josh Earnest said last week when asked about possible changes to the bill. “There’s openness to our argument, there is even sympathy for our argument. We just need to turn that into votes. And we’ll continue to make the case.”

Both Graham and Corker began to voice concerns about the bill last week, suggesting that lawmakers could use an upcoming break to allow time for negotiations on potential changes to the bill.

"It's a delicate situation," Graham said. "Nobody wants to be seen as opposing justice for the 9/11 families, but at the end of the day we have a world to manage, and right now the world is not being well-managed."

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump, Democrats clinch two-year budget deal Overnight Energy: Senators push back on EPA's new FOIA rule | Agency digs in on rule change | Watchdog expands ethics probe of former EPA air chief Bipartisan senators fight 'political considerations' in EPA's new FOIA rule MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate and one of the co-authors of the bill, has said repeatedly that he is not open to changes in the legislation.

“That’s a day late and a dollar short. After a bill passes the House and the Senate, that’s not the time to talk about changing it,” Cornyn told reporters Tuesday.

“It’s astonishing [the White House’s] lack of engagement with the Senate or the House, we just haven’t heard anything from them.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley, Wyden reach deal to lower drug prices The Hill's Morning Report — Trump applauds two-year budget deal with 0 billion spending hike Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the Senate will take up the override vote before next week before breaking for the elections.

An override of Obama’s veto was seen as a near-certainty last week, but some Democrats backers appear to be wavering in their support of the once-popular bill.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinOvernight Energy: Senators push back on EPA's new FOIA rule | Agency digs in on rule change | Watchdog expands ethics probe of former EPA air chief Bipartisan senators fight 'political considerations' in EPA's new FOIA rule Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties MORE (D-Calif.), one of the bill's original co-sponsors, on Tuesday told reporters that she hoped the veto override “can be put off and cooler heads will prevail.”

The president has until Friday to send his veto message back to Congress.

—Jordain Carney contributed.