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President Barack Obama speaks at a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. With the president are Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Obama could soon face the first 'precedent-shattering' veto override of his presidency


Obama could soon face the first 'precedent-shattering' veto override of his presidency

WATCH  | President Obama could soon face the first "precedent-shattering" veto override of his presidency.

Obama vows to veto bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday by voice vote that would allow families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. 

The Senate also passed the measure by voice vote back in May, but the Obama administration warned against moving forward with the bill.

(In voice votes, individual votes on a bill are not recorded.)

"The president does intend to veto this legislation," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explains Obama's viewpoint.

It would be precedent-shattering in their view, and would open up retaliation by other governments.
Professor Allan Lichtman

Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, said the Obama administration believes the bill is "problematic because it would be precedent-shattering in their view and would open up retaliation by other governments, in turn, to follow this precedent and perhaps sue the United States."

If they've done nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about.
Sen. Chuck Schumer

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the Senate bill, told reporters in May that if the bill is vetoed, the Senate would be able to override it.

"There are always diplomatic considerations that get in the way of justice, but if a court proves the Saudis were complicit in 9/11, they should be held accountable," Schumer said. 

'Law of the jungle'

According to NBC News, the Saudi foreign minister previously said that the country opposed the bill based on the principles of sovereign immunity, much like Obama's argument against the legislation.

"What they [Congress] are doing is stripping the principle of sovereign immunities which would turn the world for international law into the law of the jungle," Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said in May in a statement.

"That's why the [Obama] administration is opposed to it, and that's why every country in the world is opposed to it."

'Serious business to sue a sovereign government'

Lichtman said Obama will likely work for some sort of compromise.

"The details of such an agreement haven't been released, but obviously would involve some limitations on the power to sue Saudi Arabia," Lichtman said.

"After all, it's a serious business to sue a sovereign government, so maybe it would mean the ability to sue something short of the sovereign government." 

Just 10 days to veto

Once the bill is sent to Obama -- which could happen as soon as Saturday -- the president has just 10 days to veto it.

If the measure is vetoed, this would set up the first potential veto override of Obama's presidency.

"A veto override is very rare," Lichtman added. "Only a small percentage of bills that are vetoed actually get overridden.

"Obama, I think, has only vetoed something like 10 or 11 bills up to this point."

Lame duck override likely

Lichtman said if it does come down to an override, it will likely happen during the "lame duck" session of Congress, which is the session between the election and the seating of the new Congress. 

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