Cornyn ramps up support for 9/11 bill before veto override vote

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican released a video Tuesday evening backing an effort to override President Obama’s veto of a bill targeting suspicions about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks, hours before the chamber takes up the issue.

The 1-minute video features clips of the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, mixed with a floor speech in which Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThree pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (R-Texas) criticizes the White House’s veto of the bill.

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“I wish the president and his aides would spend as much time and energy working with us in a bipartisan manner as they have working against us trying to prevent victims of terrorism from receiving the justice that they deserve,” Cornyn said.

The video represents an intense lobbying push that Cornyn has made in support of the veto override, even as some lawmakers begin to express a sense of buyer’s remorse about passing the bill in the first place.

The legislation — called the Justice Against Victims of Terrorism Act (JASTA) — would allow American victims of terrorism to file lawsuits against countries believed to have supported those terrorist acts. It was crafted with the aim of helping 9/11 victims who have alleged that Saudi Arabia supported al Qaeda hijackers in the days and weeks before the 2001 attack.

Under current law, victims of terrorism can file suit only against countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism.

“We should use every means available to prevent the funding of terrorism, and the victims of terrorism in our country should be able to seek justice,” Cornyn said in the video.

JASTA passed unanimously through both chambers earlier this year.

But the Obama administration has raised opposition, warning that it could open the door for other countries to similarly lower sovereign immunity protections and sue the U.S. for its military actions. Doing so could imperil the military, the Pentagon has claimed.

In the days ahead of this week’s votes, key lawmakers including Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the head of the House Armed Services Committee, have begun lobbying their colleagues to oppose the override vote. 

The Senate is scheduled to vote on overriding the president’s veto on Wednesday. The House is expected to follow suit later this week.

Despite wavering from some lawmakers, the override effort is likely to be successful, making it the first veto override of Obama’s administration.