Delegation Votes to Override Terrorism Lawsuit Veto

By Jason Doyle Oden

All seven members of Oklahoma’s delegation voted to override President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act on Wednesday. The Senate was the first to override with a vote of 97 – 1. The House overturned the veto by a vote of 348 – 77.

Senator James Lankford points out the bill support is strong among the Republicans and Democrats.

“Despite President Obama’s opposition, I was proud to join 96 of my Senate colleagues in supporting this important bill. Families affected by foreign state-supported terrorism in the U.S. deserve the right to pursue justice for these cowardly and horrific attacks. Foreign states responsible for terrorism on American soil must be held accountable for the damage they cause to innocent Americans, especially when it results in the loss of precious life. Allowing families to sue for terrorist attacks is common sense. Nothing can replace those we have lost through acts of international terrorism, but this legislation can help bring justice for those families and serve as a deterrent for future attacks,” said Lankford.

Senator Jim Inhofe said it was a timely piece of legislation as the threat of terrorism grows in the U.S. and around the world.

“The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is a commonsense piece of legislation that strengthens the United States’ position around the world and I was proud to vote to override the president’s veto. This legislation gives victims an avenue to justice with the opportunity to hold those involved in a terrorist attack responsible. With the rapid spread of terrorism around the world, this legislation is necessary and timely in that it punishes foreign sponsors of terrorism, restoring Congress’s intent to hold those who target Americans accountable in U.S. courts,” said Inhofe.

Congressman Steve Russell said it was the right thing to do in overriding the veto.

“What we see here is the will of the people being enacted. The initial vote had strong bipartisan support, and today you saw a near unanimous Senate vote, followed by strong support in the House. I understand some of the President’s thinking that court cases could hurt foreign diplomacy, but this vote doesn’t guarantee anything; there still needs to be a finding in court that these cases are legitimate.  I just think it is important that the victims of terrorism have recourse to find justice. If there are funds that could be available to them, then those people should be able to access those funds,” said Russell.

The measure allows private U.S. citizens to sue a foreign state that supports an act of international terrorism that occurs on U.S. soil.

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