Senate votes to override Obama veto on 9/11 bill

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to overturn President Obama’s veto of a bill letting families of Sept. 11 victims sue the Saudi Arabian government, bringing Congress within reach of completing the first successful veto override of Obama’s presidency.

The Senate voted 97-1 to reject the veto. The measure heads next to the House, where lawmakers will need to muster a two-thirds majority, as in the Senate, to override. 

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on the Senate floor moments before Wednesday's vote, pushed back hard on Saudi government objections to the legislation, which has broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

“It’s very simple. If the Saudis were culpable, they should be held accountable. If they had nothing to do with 9/11, they have nothing to fear,” Schumer said. 

An override now appears all but certain and would mark a blow to the president in the final months of his term.

A group of senators pledged to find ways to improve the measure during a postelection, lame-duck session of Congress. With elections just over a month away, many lawmakers are reluctant to oppose a measure backed by 9/11 families who say they are still seeking justice 15 years after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The White House was still fighting the override attempt in the final stages.

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