History was made this week when Congress in overwhelming bipartisan fashion overrode President Obama’s misguided veto of legislation allowing families of the victims of the horrible attacks of September 11th 2001 to sue the government of Saudi Arabia and seek compensatory damages. The bill was known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and the President’s initial veto was so poorly received that 97 United States Senators and 348 House of Representatives Members voted to override his veto. As a matter of fact, the only U.S. Senator to reject the veto override was the President’s biggest liberal cheerleader, Harry Reid. With a stroke of his pen, President Obama attempted to take away the ability for families of the worst terror attack in the history of our country the chance to seek the justice they deserve. It is shameful that President Obama chose to bow to the Saudi government instead of standing with Americans.

Like most Americans, I still vividly remember watching the news as the Twin Towers fell on the morning of September 11, 2001. Our country pledged to fight these terrorists at their doorsteps, to not rest until each person responsible was made to answer for their heinous crimes, but the truth is that fifteen years later, this still hasn’t fully happened.

There are many issues that divide not only Congress, but our country as a whole – support for the victims and families of 9/11 is not one of them. Everyone agrees that the families of the victims on September 11th deserved their day in court. They deserve the opportunity to present their evidence to a judge to determine just how much of a role the Saudi government played in the attacks. We have seen President Obama time and time again go around Congress to enact his liberal agenda, but this time, Democrats in Congress finally had enough and joined with Republicans to hold him accountable. It is a shame that we have come to a point where it takes a Presidential veto override by Congress to stop our commander and chief from ignoring the will of Congress and Americans. A Presidential veto override by Congress is only considered as a last resort option – it requires strong bipartisanship and 2/3rds support of both Chambers of Congress. In U.S. history, there have only been 110 veto overrides, making them extremely rare and historic occasions.

President Obama has time and time again emphasized and in fact boasted that he goes around Congress to enact his liberal agenda. For example, when asked in 2012 about how he planned to enact a policy that Congress was opposed to he said, “If Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them.” Over the past eight years, President Obama has lived by these words and has taken numerous extraordinary, unconstitutional actions to bypass Congress to implement his leftist agenda. What President Obama’s statement fails to recognize is that he was elected President of a Constitutional Republic, not a Kingship – and that 49% of the country voted for somebody else in his last election. When Congress fails to pass his desired policies, it’s not because they refuse to act, but because more than 50% of Members and Senators agree that what he desires is not what is best for the country as a whole. That is how things are supposed to work, that was the vision of our Founding Fathers, instead the President often tries to come up with illegal executive actions to get around them.

The Congressional override of Obama’s veto this week is history that I was proud to be a part of. The legacy of the Obama Administration will now include the stain of a Congressional veto override that after eight years, was long overdue. No piece of legislation can ever heal the wounds of September 11th or get back the almost 3,000 lives lost that day, but my hope is that allowing these victims to seek justice will provide a sense of closure for these families.

Jason Smith represents Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Contact him at 573-335-0101 or visit

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