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White House Sends JASTA Back to Congress along with Obama’s Veto | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this Aug. 4, 2016 file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon. AP

New York-U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday sent back to the Congress the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act known as JASTA along with his veto, White House sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The sources said that Obama vetoed the legislation and returned it to Congress on Friday at 5:00 pm Washington time.

The bill allows families of victims of terrorist attacks to sue countries whose citizens have been involved in these attacks. But Obama’s move could prompt Congress to overturn his decision with a rare veto override, which requires the voting of the two-thirds of the lawmakers in both the Senate and House.

The White House intentionally sent the veto on Friday, ahead of the weekend which will be followed by the Congressional recess when lawmakers head to their states to prepare for the elections of the U.S. House of Representatives that will take place in November, a sign that the Congress would not be able to override Obama’s veto until after the presidential polls.

Some Congressmen hinted that they would hold an extraordinary session ahead of the recess. But no date has been set for the session.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama “is much more worried about the long-term impact of this legislation on our national security than he is about the impact that this could have in his daily interactions with members of Congress.”

The legislation “potentially opens up U.S. servicemembers and diplomats and even companies to spurious lawsuits,” he said.

Earnest stressed Obama was worried about “the impact that this could have on the United States’ relationship with countries around the world.”

“The President’s interest is making sure we’re looking out for the safety and security and legal risk that could be facing our servicemembers, our diplomats, and U.S. companies around the world.”

“We’re getting conflicting signals from members of Congress based on comparing their private conversations and their public expressions of a position on a particular issue,” said the spokesman.

“The President is not blind to the politics of this situation … But we’re focused on the substantive, long-term impact on our nation’s national security,” he told reporters.

Earnest stressed that Obama had a strong record of looking out for the families of those who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks and that he had ordered the operation to take Osama bin Laden off the battlefield.

The veto came on the last possible day for Obama to act under the Constitution, which gives the president 10 days (excluding Sundays) to veto a bill before it automatically becomes law.