President Obama vetoed a bill Friday allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for its involvement in the attack.
But Congressional leaders expect they'll be able to override the veto before Congress adjourns next week.
The bill would allow the families of terrorism victims to sue foreign governments in U.S. courts. They'd have to prove the government knowingly or recklessly supported terrorism. Currently, foreign government can't be sued in U.S. courts.
The expectation is that 9/11 families will sue the Saudi Arabian government to try and determine if the Saudis were involved in the helping the hijackers. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia.
President Obama, in his veto message, said the bill would undermine the U.S. government's ability to act against countries sponsoring terrorism.
"This would invite consequential decisions to be made based upon incomplete information," the veto message says, "and risk having different courts reaching different conclusions about the culpability of individual foreign governments and their role in terrorist activities directed against the United States — which is neither an effective nor a coordinated way for us to respond to indications that a foreign government might have been behind a terrorist attack."
Obama also worried the bill would allow foreign citizens to sue U.S. military and diplomats living overseas. Other countries might be less likely to work with the U.S. on national security, the president wrote.
But local members of Congress said they have the two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate needed to override the president. It would be the first of Obama's 12 vetoes to be overturned.
"If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation," New York Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement. "If they were culpable in 9/11, they should be held accountable."
New York Rep. Joe Crowley said the courts would throw out frivolous lawsuits.
"I think that justice is paramount, wherever that may lead," said Crowley, whose district includes the Bronx and Queens. "And we’ll, you know, deal with the ramifications after that."
Members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation planned to rally to override the veto with 9/11 families on Monday in Hartford.
Here's how New York, New Jersey and Connecticut lawmakers described the political math: They can risk angering a president leaving office in January, or make local voters angry and give campaign fodder to a potential opponent. And, lawmakers say, it's hard to look 9/11 families in the eye and tell them they shouldn't be able to seek justice.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — the nation's former chief diplomat — supports the bill; so does Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The Senate and House approved the bill with voice votes — meaning unanimously — so any lawmaker who votes to sustain the veto could be accused of flip-flopping.
Congress is expected to adjourn sometime next week until after the November election, but House and Senate leaders want to deal with the veto before they leave.