White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says national security concerns are the driving force behind President Obama’s decision to veto a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia and other state sponsors of terrorism. The White House is concerned that if the bill passes, other countries will engage in similar law suits against the U.S.
"I can confirm to you that we continue to make a forceful case to members of Congress that overriding the president's veto means that this country will start pursuing a less forceful approach in dealing with state sponsors of terrorism," Earnest said. "And potentially opens up U.S. servicemembers, diplomats, and even companies to spurious lawsuits in kangaroo courts around the world."
He continued: "That is the crux of our concern. I know you described it as the 'Saudi Arabia Bill.' They certainly are interested in the outcome. But from the administration's perspective, our concern extends not just to the impact this would have on our relationship with Saudi Arabia, but the impact this could have on the U.S. relationship with countries around the world."
He also said: "The president understands that the talking points that are being prepared for the proponents of this bill have more political upside than the talking points I am able to present to you from here. But if we're focused on the long term substantive impact on our nation's security, that is what is driving the position. That is what is driving the president's decision to veto this bill."
"The president is willing to take some political heat in order to do the right thing," Earnest said.