'Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act' sitting on President's desk, awaiting expected veto

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says the bill could set an international precedent.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says the bill could set an international precedent.(GRAYDC)
Published: Sep. 15, 2016 at 4:43 PM EDT
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The White House is threatening to veto a bill that would give the families of terror victims a chance to sue countries that support terrorism.

"The President does intend to veto this legislation," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Earnest says the 'Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act' sets a dangerous international precedent. The legislation would allow terror victims’ families to sue nations that aid in terror attacks.

"Currently, there is a process inside the executive branch of the United States government for designating certain countries as state sponsors of terrorism," said Earnest.

Earnest says it would allow judges at a variety of levels to determine which countries can be sued, effectively deeming them sponsors of terrorism.

"It's not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members, or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world," said Earnest.

The White House clearly is not seeing eye-to-eye with Congress on this issue. The House and Senate both passed this bill unanimously. Many lawmakers want to use it to target Saudi Arabia for its possible role in the September 11th attacks.

"We get calls regularly thanking us...thanking us," said Congresswoman Gwen Graham (D-FL). "Because who is fighting? Who is still fighting ten years later for those families that lost their loved ones on September 11th."

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL) says this bill is an extra tool to help victims’ families get justice.

"Not often around here in this political environment do you see such broad support for the legislation and policy that we put forward," said Roby. "But you see it this time, and I think it’s a real opportunity."

If support remains the same on Capitol Hill, Congress would have enough support to override the president's veto.

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