JUSTICE AGAINST SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ACT--VETO; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 147
(Senate - September 28, 2016)

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[Pages S6166-S6173]
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            JUSTICE AGAINST SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ACT--VETO

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the veto message to accompany S. 2040, which 
the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Veto message to accompany S. 2040, the Justice Against 
     Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will now be 2 
hours of debate equally divided between the leaders or their designees.
  The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I am honored to open the debate today 
on the effort by this body and by the U.S. Congress to give the loved 
ones of the victims of terrorism on 9/11 their day in court--simple 
justice.
  Fifteen years ago we stood in horror as our country suffered the 
worst terrorist attack on the United States in the history of our 
Nation. Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost, including heroic first 
responders, firemen, police, and beloved honorable men and women--148 
of them from my home State of Connecticut. Over these years, I have 
watched and listened to them in their strength and courage as they have 
tirelessly sought to make this system of justice work in the memory of 
their loved ones.
  The terrorists who struck on 9/11 tried and failed to destroy that 
system of justice and the ideals of this Nation. Our hearts were 
broken, but our country and our ideals were not.
  Over the past 15 years, I have been honored to work with those 
families. Today gives us the opportunity to move forward with 
legislation, despite the President's veto.
  I deeply respect the President and the reasons that he has given for 
vetoing the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, but I urge my 
colleagues to move swiftly and soundly to reverse this veto so these 
families can have their day in court. That is what the legal system of 
this country is designed to do. It is the system where I spent my 
career before the Senate

[[Page S6167]]

working to ensure accountability for wrongdoers and the restoration of 
victims' rights--promises to citizens that are made by our Constitution 
that there will be a neutral and fair forum to determine their claims.
  These families will never get their loved ones back, but they deserve 
justice and a day in court. That is why today we will, I hope, override 
the President's veto.
  Fifteen years after that tragedy we are still learning facts, but 
there is mounting evidence that the Saudi Government--or at least 
organizations and operatives within the Saudi Government--aided and 
abetted one of the most massive crimes in the United States. In our 
system, the truth behind those facts deserves to be presented in a 
court--a court of law where fairness and justice will be assured. This 
measure does not prejudge a verdict or issue a judgment. It gives both 
sides a fair day in court.
  If the Saudi Government had no involvement in 9/11, it has nothing to 
fear. But if it was culpable, it should be held accountable. That is 
the basic principle of this measure.
  When all is said and done, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism 
Act simply closes a loophole that was created by the courts, contrary 
to the intent of this body. That loophole, in effect, permits foreign 
governments to aid and abet crimes against the citizens of this country 
as long as its aiding and abetting occurred outside of our borders. 
Think of it as a missile launched from another country by terrorists 
with the support and assistance of that foreign government. That 
foreign government can evade any and all responsibility simply because 
the missile was launched outside our borders. Similarly, the missile of 
terrorism can be launched outside our borders and the foreign 
government, including Saudi Arabia, is able to evade all responsibility 
under the decision made by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New 
York, which created that loophole. So that foreign government can give 
terrorists bags of money and tons of explosives to carry out murder 
within our borders, as long as it does so outside our borders. That is 
wrong.
  The principle here is broader and bigger than Saudi Arabia or even 
the 9/11 victims. It is about simple justice. Our law should recognize 
the reality that global crimes can be sponsored and supported outside 
our borders and inflict grave harm, including murder, on the citizens 
of our country within our borders.
  This loophole will be closed by this measure for the benefit of not 
only the 9/11 victims but also potential victims in the future. It will 
send a message and deter violent crime in this country aided and 
abetted by foreign governments in the future. It will deter that kind 
of violence through an ideal and a tradition that is uniquely 
American. It is a system of justice that imposes accountability and 
makes sure that everybody has a fair day in court.

  I know questions have been raised about potential retaliation or 
reprisal against members of our military or citizens in other 
countries. This Nation should stand firm and strong against terrorist 
violence. We have nothing to fear as long as we do not engage in 
supporting or sponsoring the kind of violence that occurred on 9/11 
here. We must trust that our government would never be responsible for 
that kind of aiding and abetting of deliberate killing of innocent 
civilians, the purposeful massacre of people who are innocent.
  I am honored to begin this debate. I hope it will be closed in a way 
that vindicates the rights as well as the interests of our country. I 
am proud to join colleagues on both sides of the aisle. This measure 
has been bipartisan from the start.
  I particularly thank my colleagues Senator Schumer and Senator Cornyn 
for their leadership. I believe a bill unanimously passed by both 
houses of Congress, strongly supported by both sides of the aisle, 
deserves to become law. I trust and believe it will today.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Will the Senator withhold?
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Yes.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate is not in a quorum call.
  The Senator is recognized.


                   OSHA and Anhydrous Ammonia Storage

  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I rise today to address a recent ruling 
from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Last week, the court 
issued a ruling that was a victory for America's ag producers and a 
rebuke to Washington regulators. Specifically, the court ruled the 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, violated the 
law when it imposed new limits on anhydrous ammonia storage.
  I realize many of my colleagues may not be familiar with anhydrous 
ammonia. But for those of us who make our living from the land, it is 
the most cost-effective and commonly used fertilizer in production 
agriculture. Anhydrous ammonia is an essential input for ag producers 
in Nebraska and all across this country. It allows them to produce more 
food while using less land, less water, and, yes, less fertilizer.
  Producers receive anhydrous ammonia from retail facilities. In 
Nebraska, these facilities are primarily farmer-owned cooperatives, 
found in more than 400 locations across the State. These facilities 
store anhydrous ammonia in tanks on their property, and since 1992, 
these tanks have been exempt from certain OSHA regulations. But in 
2015, OSHA issued a new standard affecting these retail fertilizer 
facilities, and they did so illegally, without public notice or 
industry input.
  OSHA's new standard would have required retailers to provide 
documentation that these tanks fit certain specifications. If a 
retailer couldn't produce that paperwork, then he or she would be 
required to purchase an entirely new tank. These tanks are expensive. 
The starting price is in the neighborhood of $70,000. Furthermore, 
anhydrous ammonia tanks vary in size from State to State, and several 
tank manufacturers are no longer in business. OSHA's unrealistic 
expectations made it impossible for these retailers and producers to 
obtain the needed paperwork, which meant that these retailers would 
have been forced to purchase those pricey new tanks, even though their 
old ones worked just fine. Understandably, this became a major headache 
for retailers and producers.
  For example, in my home State of Nebraska, Central Valley Ag 
Cooperative, which is located in York, anticipated compliance costs of 
$5.6 million. This includes an additional $100,000 of ongoing 
compliance costs every year. In Elmwood, NE, Midwest Farmers 
Cooperative estimated producers would spend $20 to $28 more per acre 
when applying fertilizer to their fields. Given the current state of 
the farm economy, these increased costs would have been devastating. 
They would have forced many farmers to leave the industry altogether.
  That would be heartbreaking enough, but there was another, even more 
troubling aspect to OSHA's standard. They never put it through the 
required public notice and comment process. OSHA is required by law to 
conduct this process, as are most Federal agencies, whenever they issue 
a new regulation or standard. The public notice-and-comment period is a 
built-in safeguard. It allows those who would be affected by a proposed 
regulation to have their voices heard, and, ideally, the government 
would listen to their voices. But OSHA didn't follow the rules. They 
did not listen. They didn't even try to listen. They said their new 
policy was effective immediately. That was unacceptable to me.
  In response, this summer I introduced bipartisan legislation with 
Senator Heidi Heitkamp known as the FARM Act. We offered this 
legislation to provide relief to farmers and force OSHA to follow the 
law.
  Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit reinforced 
this legislation by forcing OSHA to vacate their illegal and harmful 
standard. With this ruling, an important precedent has been set. The 
court made it clear: OSHA improperly expanded the scope, complexity, 
and costs of regulation on ag facilities that handle anhydrous ammonia. 
By disrupting the supply of a vital fertilizer, OSHA would have 
disrupted farming operations. Worse, they would have harmed farmers' 
ability to do their jobs and also to provide for their families.
  I am relieved that the courts came in and upheld the rule of law. 
America's ag producers will now face one less hardship. They can focus 
on feeding the

[[Page S6168]]

world and providing for their own families.
  At the same time, I remain appalled that OSHA would so brazenly 
disregard the law in the first place. This is another example of why 
the American people don't trust the Federal Government. Honestly, I 
don't blame them. When the Federal Government doesn't follow its own 
law, it destroys public trust. Out-of-control agencies, like OSHA, 
which do not follow the law need to be stopped when their overly 
burdensome regulations hurt Americans.
  Let the American people do their jobs. Let them raise their families, 
earn their living, and pursue their life's purpose. When the 
bureaucracy fails to do this, it is the responsibility of Members of 
Congress to step in. I am glad that I have done so.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that all time spent in a 
quorum call before the vote on the veto message to accompany S. 2040 be 
charged equally against each side.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, as the Senate knows, today we are 
considering the President's misguided decision to veto a piece of 
legislation that passed this body unanimously by unanimous consent and 
likewise passed the House of Representatives with no dissenting votes.
  In our polarized politics of today, this is pretty much a close-to-
miraculous occurrence because Democrats and Republicans, Senators and 
House Members, have all agreed the Justice Against Sponsors of 
Terrorism Act, which gives the victims of a terrorist attack on our own 
soil an opportunity to seek the justice they deserve--all of us have 
come together and agreed this is appropriate and the right thing to do.
  At a time when international terrorism is spreading, FBI Director 
Comey yesterday warned of a terrorist diaspora. The Justice Against 
Sponsors of Terrorism Act will send a strong message that those who 
sponsor terrorist attacks on American soil, including foreign 
governments, will answer to those victims and pay for the death and 
destruction they cause.
  Current law already allows for American victims to sue foreign 
governments for many different offenses committed by their employees--
commercial wrongs, assault, drunk driving, rape, human trafficking, 
among others. That is already part of existing law.
  JASTA would clarify that sponsoring an act of terrorism in America is 
added to that list. If we allowed lawsuits against foreign governments 
for bar fights, contract breaches, drunk driving, then we should allow 
the victims of a terrorist attack on our soil the opportunity for their 
day in court as well. This is an important piece of legislation, and it 
is straightforward. That is why I believe we got the unanimous support 
in both bodies that we have.
  I want to make clear, though, that this has not been a quick process. 
This legislation has been pending since 2009, and we have worked 
through a number of Members' concerns they have expressed along the way 
in order to modify the legislation and build the consensus we now have 
achieved. There have been many different drafts and feedback from 
Members, a lot of consultations with family members who have been 
affected, and a lot has gone into this legislation. That means this 
bill has been negotiated and hammered out over a long period of time, 
and that is the reason we were able to garner such strong support from 
both bodies to get the bill passed.
  Last Friday, the President chose to ignore the voices of American 
terrorism victims by vetoing this legislation. Fortunately, today this 
Chamber will have a choice and have a chance to exercise our 
constitutional prerogative under article I, section 7 of the 
Constitution. We will have a chance to act as a check on President 
Obama to override his veto.
  I have read President Obama's veto message, and it is not persuasive. 
That is because it described a bill that doesn't exist and 
misrepresents the state of the law. He cites concerns that the bill 
would ``create complications'' with some of our close partners. The 
truth is, JASTA only targets foreign governments that sponsor terrorist 
attacks on American soil, plain and simple. I don't know how that would 
create complications with some of our close partners.
  The financing of terrorism in the United States is not behavior we 
should tolerate from any nation, allies included. How can anyone look 
the families in the eye and tell them they shouldn't have the 
opportunity to seek justice against a foreign government responsible 
for the death of their loved one?
  The President has claimed this legislation would result in a flood of 
lawsuits against Americans by foreign governments. What the President 
ignores is that we are already being sued by foreign nations under the 
current state of the law, but a law like JASTA applied reciprocally 
will open no such floodgates.
  The President even had the audacity to claim this legislation might 
lead to lawsuits against members of the military, but had he read the 
plain text of the bill, he would know this bill only allows for 
lawsuits against foreign governments, not individuals. He would also 
know it contains a specific exemption for our Armed Forces.
  Finally, JASTA is not a sweeping legislative overhaul that 
dramatically alters international law. It is an extension of law that 
has been on the books since 1976. Once again, there are numerous 
exceptions that prevent foreign governments from shielding themselves 
from litigation when they cause harm.
  The President has also complained this applies to conduct committed 
abroad, but today and for 40 years our law has been replete with 
immunity exceptions that apply to conduct committed abroad. This bill 
just adds another exception.
  At the end of the day, this vote is about doing what is right for the 
American people. Some of our colleagues have expressed concerns about 
how it might be interpreted by some of our allies, but the fact is, 
this legislation does not mention any particular country. All it does 
is it carves out an exception to this notion of sovereign immunity for 
conduct committed in a terrorist attack on American soil.
  The whole idea of sovereign immunity comes from England and our 
Anglo-American inheritance in our law. The notion is that the King in 
England could do no wrong so you couldn't sue the government, but we 
have recognized the injustice that would cause, even in our own 
country, when Congress has passed numerous exceptions under which the 
U.S. Government can be sued in our own court, recognizing that equal 
justice under the law does not create a situation where it should not 
tolerate a situation where the government was simply immune from 
litigation and paying its fair compensation in individual lawsuits.
  This legislation is about pursuing justice and the legal process it 
continues to serve as a foundation to our Republic. At its core, this 
bill is about respecting the voices and the rights of American victims. 
I believe we have many important allies around the world with whom our 
interests are aligned, but when our interests diverge, and it is a 
question of protecting American rights and American values, I think we 
should always do that rather than somehow subjugate those rights and 
values to the interests of some foreign government.
  This is not about severing our relationship with any ally. This is 
simply a matter of justice. This is about respecting the voices and the 
rights of the American victims. At about noon today, this Chamber 
should vote overwhelmingly to override President Obama's veto of the 
Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act because the families have 
already suffered too much. They have already suffered untold tragedy, 
and they deserve to find a path to closure that only justice can 
provide.
  I, like many of my colleagues, have had a chance to meet with a 
number of

[[Page S6169]]

the families of the victims of 9/11. Their stories are heartbreaking, 
and I know none of us will forget where we were on that fateful day. 
Our country has changed undeniably, but for these families, that day 
and each day serve as a tragic reminder of deep, personal loss.
  One of these family members whom I have had the chance to get to know 
is Marge Mathers, who now calls Texas home. Marge's husband Charles 
worked on the 99th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. 
She says she turned on the television that fateful day and watched in 
horror as the tower in which Charles was working collapsed.
  Marge moved to Texas soon after September 11, but her grieving--and 
our Nation's grieving--continues and of course will never completely 
end. Long ago, I pledged to Marge and to other families I have met that 
I would do my very level best to help them right this wrong and to 
provide them an opportunity to make their case in a court of law. So we 
will fix this law by extending this 1976 provision, the Foreign 
Sovereign Immunities Act, to allow the families and the victims of the 
9/11 tragedy to seek justice in a court of law in an American court.
  These families should have the right to make their case. These 
families should have the freedom to have their day in court, to have a 
judge hear their case, and to hold accountable those who played a role 
in their suffering. That is what this legislation is all about, 
providing them the freedom to do so.
  The families of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that occurred in the 
United States have waited a long time, and I am hopeful they will not 
have to wait any longer for the opportunity to pursue justice. I hope 
every Member of this body will join me in supporting this bill one more 
time and we will vote to override the President's veto and further the 
cause of justice for these victims.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                      Funding for Flint, Michigan

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to give the people 
of Flint, MI, the assurance that they are going to get some help after 
more than a year. I have had an opportunity to meet with Senator 
Stabenow. I talked with her a number of times this morning. I have had 
occasion to visit with the majority leader, and I have spoken with 
Leader Pelosi. I am convinced that there is going to be help for Flint 
in the lameduck. They have been waiting for help, they deserve help, 
and I am very happy that it is going to come. The people there deserve 
relief. What is going on there has been wrong, but now I feel very 
comfortable in being able to say that the people of Flint, MI, will get 
help. I have had conversations with people who have been given the 
assurance by the Republican leadership that something will happen in 
the lameduck. We have been waiting a long time to get this done, and it 
is going to happen.
  As I indicated a minute ago, I have had a number of conversations 
with Leader Pelosi this morning, and she--I never want to say what 
someone said, but I can say that I felt comfortable, after speaking 
with her, that the House feels comfortable with where they are on 
Flint, and we feel comfortable here in the Senate.
  I really appreciate the hard work of Senator Stabenow and Senator 
Peters because they have been tireless, relentless to make sure the 
people of Flint, MI, get some help.
  I think it should be a good day for the Senate. It should lead to our 
being able to move forward on the continuing resolution. There are a 
couple of outstanding issues, but I think they should be able to be 
resolved.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I take this time to speak about the 
Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, better known as JASTA.
  I am going to support the veto override, but it is not without 
concern for the potential unintended consequences. I have come to the 
conclusion that the risk of shielding the perpetrators of terrorism 
from justice outweighs the risks on how other countries might respond 
to and perhaps compromise U.S. interests.
  Fifteen years have passed since the September 11, 2001, terrorist 
attacks, but in my home State of Maryland and across the country, the 
pain caused by the events of that terrible day is still very real. The 
9/11 attacks were a national tragedy for the United States, but we were 
personally devastated for fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and 
children in Maryland and throughout the country. The 9/11 victims and 
their families deserve meaningful relief, and I cannot support putting 
obstacles in the way of victims of terrorism seeking justice.
  I understand that this legislation may have an effect on long-held 
sovereign immunity principles, and I share some of those concerns that 
the President has articulated in his veto message. I share the 
President's view about the importance of upholding sovereign immunity 
to the extent that we can and to the extent that it makes sense, but 
the principles of sovereign immunity were put in place at a time when 
acts of international terrorism were not as common. Exceptions to 
sovereign immunity have grown over time as times have changed. In 
today's world, it is my view that we must make sure that the 
international community understands that there is a clear distinction 
between those who oppose terrorism and those who sponsor terrorism. 
Those who commit or support terrorist acts in the United States should 
face the full weight of our justice system.

  JASTA's intended purpose is to create a tort exception that allows 
victims and their families to seek justice for acts of international 
terrorism in the United States that are caused by terrorist torts of a 
foreign state or its officials. Terrorism victims and their families in 
the United States should be able to have their day in court. We cannot, 
in good conscience, close the courthouse door to those families who 
suffered unimaginable losses.
  I have confidence in the American jurisprudence system and that we 
will get this right in order to respect the lawful acts of governments 
but also to hold those who sponsor terrorism accountable under our 
system of justice.
  The legislation restricts the application of this exception. It only 
applies to acts of terrorism on U.S. soil. It establishes a standard 
that is greater than negligence in order to be able to have an 
actionable claim. There is an ability for the government to stay the 
proceedings to negotiate a settlement. So the U.S. Government can 
intercede. I think these exceptions were put in and negotiated in order 
to try to deal with some of the legitimate concerns that were initially 
raised.
  As ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I 
recognize that there are risk factors in terms of how other countries 
may respond to the enactment of JASTA. As a nation with hundreds of 
thousands of troops that serve abroad, not to mention multiple foreign 
bases and facilities, the United States of America is a country that 
benefits from sovereign immunity principles that protect our country 
and our country's interests, its Armed Forces, government officials, 
and litigation in foreign courts. Therefore, there is a concern of 
unintended consequences, including irresponsible applications to U.S. 
international activities by other countries.
  While I have faith and confidence in the American legal system, the 
same faith does not necessarily extend to the fairness of legal systems 
of other countries that may claim they are taking similar actions 
against America when they are not. So we need to follow closely how 
other countries respond and try to mitigate the risks of the United 
States abroad.

[[Page S6170]]

  In my role as the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, 
I intend to do just that. I will seek to work with my colleagues to try 
to mitigate these risks, and I similarly support the efforts of the 
State Department and Department of Defense to mitigate any risks to our 
diplomacy, assets, and troops abroad that may be caused by the 
enactment of JASTA.
  I intend to explore with my colleagues the possibility of whether we 
need or will need additional legislative action. Such additional 
legislation would allow justice for family members of the victims of 
the 9/11 attack while ameliorating some of the potential adverse 
consequences of JASTA.
  Near my Baltimore office in the Inner Harbor of Maryland, there has 
been created a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Inspired by 
an artifact of the New York World Trade Center, the memorial consists 
of three 22-foot-long twisted and torn amalgamated steel columns from 
the Twin Towers. The memorial provides a place for contemplation and a 
site to remember and reflect upon the events of September 11, 2001, 
while paying tribute to the 69 Marylanders who lost their lives that 
day. Each year on September 11, Baltimore's World Trade Center will act 
as a sundial to mark the chronological inscriptions of the events of 
that tragic day. Today we hold close in our hearts and prayers those 
Marylanders who died on that day, as well as the families and friends 
whose lives have been altered forever.
  There are no actions we can take to sufficiently heal the pain and 
suffering so many thousands of Americans carry with them 15 years after 
that fateful September day, but our constituents and fellow citizens 
are asking for a path to justice. This legislation creates that path, 
and having weighed both sides carefully, I am compelled to uphold it.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, last Friday, President Obama vetoed the 
Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, JASTA. Given the 
overwhelming, bipartisan support this legislation enjoys in both the 
Senate and the House, I was surprised and hence very disappointed the 
President disregarded the will of the People and chose this course of 
action. He chose to use his veto pen, but today it is my hope and 
expectation that the Senate will exercise its constitutional authority 
to override that veto.

  This legislation has been a truly bipartisan effort since the day it 
was introduced. I joined Senators Cornyn and Schumer as an original 
cosponsor last year.
  Our bill is sponsored by 16 members of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee. And if you know anything about the Judiciary Committee, you 
know that getting 16 members of our committee to agree on any 
legislation is no small task. We have some very conservative members, 
as well as some very liberal members. Getting all of those members on 
board with this important legislation is a testament to just how broad 
its support really is.
  I moved this legislation out of our committee unanimously in 
February, and then the full Senate passed it unanimously in May. The 
House followed suit and passed it in September. Like the Senate, the 
House passed the legislation unanimously.
  That is how this legislation arrived on the President's desk. It was 
sent to him with unanimous support in both the Senate and House, from 
Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals.
  But it has run into some opposition. Of course, it is not opposed by 
the victims of 9/11 and their families. They aren't asking for 
legislation that tips the scales in their favor. All they want is the 
opportunity to present their case in a court of law. And that is what 
this legislation would give them.
  The legislation has run into opposition because it is opposed by 
Saudi Arabia, who has been making threats against the United States 
about what it might do if Congress stands with the American people and 
9/11 victims and their families, instead of the Saudis. Now, according 
to press reports, the Saudis have gone out and hired an army of 
lobbyists to work furiously in a last-minute attempt to derail it.
  So on what exactly has the White House and Saudi Arabia based its 
opposition?
  They have made a lot of claims, but the one you hear most often is 
that if the United States stands with the 9/11 victims on this 
legislation and provides them the opportunity to make their case in 
court, then other countries could try to haul U.S. soldiers and other 
personnel into their courts.
  But what this claim ignores, of course, is that JASTA does not allow 
lawsuits against individuals, only foreign governments, JASTA expressly 
prohibits lawsuits arising from ``acts of war.'' So any claim by the 
President that this is all about protecting U.S. personnel from being 
hauled into foreign courts just doesn't hold water.
  The second most common argument some are making is that if Congress 
stands up to the President, the Saudis and their lobbyists, and this 
legislation becomes law, then the Saudis will respond by pulling their 
money out of U.S. securities. Well, let's set aside the fact that this 
appears to be an empty threat. It is highly unlikely that they would 
follow through on it. But even if they did, there would be plenty of 
buyers for those securities. But more importantly, is this really how 
we should be deciding policy? What kind of message would that send to 
other foreign governments?
  The message would be clear: if you want to influence U.S. 
legislation, make sure to buy up U.S. debt, and then threaten to sell 
that debt any time the United States Congress does something you don't 
like.
  We absolutely cannot be intimidated or bend to that type of threat. 
That would send a terrible message to the rest of the world.
  So, it is unfortunate President Obama vetoed this important 
legislation and that we now need to have this vote.
  But, it is my hope and expectation that the Senate--and the House--
will stand with the 9/11 victims and their families, and stand up to 
the President, the Saudis, and their army of lobbyists.
  I yield the floor.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, the decision whether to override the 
President's veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act has 
been a difficult one.
  Every Member of this body has vivid memories of September 11: the 
fires raging in the towers, smoke billowing from the Pentagon, a plane 
destined for the Capitol, but taken down by brave Americans--the sense 
that this Nation would never be the same.
  I strongly support the ability of Americans who are victims of 
terrorism on U.S. soil to receive compensation and their fair measure 
of justice. That, at its core, is the goal of this bill.
  I have met with the families. I know many of those killed or injured 
in the attacks were not only the breadwinners in their families, but 
also mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins and friends. I know 
the families' deep and abiding sense of grief is just as intense today 
as it was 15 years ago.
  This bill has elements that are very strong and have my unqualified 
support. For example, it expands the Antiterrorism Act to allow victims 
to hold accountable individuals who aid and abet or conspire to commit 
terrorist attacks.
  I have decided to support the bill today, but continue to be 
concerned about unintended consequences that may require Congress to 
revisit this bill in the future.
  My key concern relates to the exception to the immunity of foreign 
governments. Proponents of this bill argue that the exception is 
narrow, that it applies only if a foreign nation, with ill intent, 
takes unlawful actions that cause an act of terrorism on our soil.
  But other nations that are strongly opposed to American actions 
abroad could respond by using the bill as an excuse to adopt laws that 
target our own government's actions.
  A September 15 Washington Post editorial said it well: ``It is not a 
far-fetched concern, given this country's global use of intelligence 
agents, Special Operations forces and drones, all of which could be 
construed as state-sponsored `terrorism' when convenient.''
  Those of us on the Senate Intelligence Committee know that, if other 
countries respond to JASTA in this

[[Page S6171]]

manner, it could jeopardize our government's actions abroad. If that 
happens, it is likely that our government would be forced to defend 
against private lawsuits, which could pose a threat to our national 
security.
  I had hoped some agreement could be reached to narrow the bill's 
scope to limit those unintended consequences, such as by limiting the 
bill to the September 11 attacks.
  I believe the threat of unintended consequences is real and must be 
mitigated. To that end I have signed a letter with several of my 
colleagues who feel as I do that this issue will have to be revisited.
  I intend to work with my colleagues on a bill that would limit this 
bill to the 9/11 attacks, which were singularly devastating to our 
country. In addition, I intend to look into whether we should limit the 
bill to apply only to those directly impacted by an attack--including 
individuals, their estates and property damage, rather than companies 
with only tangential connections.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, over the course of the last several days, 
I have met with the victims of 9/11 and, like many people in this body 
have, I don't think I have ever met a more gracious, genuine, sincere 
group of people. I know they have sought some way of expressing their 
desire to seek justice in what happened on 9/11. We all have 
constituents who come up and meet with us. These people certainly have 
not been from the State of Tennessee, but I have to say, they have 
presented their case in a way that is most heartfelt, and I have 
tremendous empathy for all they and their families have gone through. 
Yesterday, on the way outside the building, a gentleman came up to me, 
recognized me, and told me about sitting in his home and seeing the 
planes go overhead, seeing them kill his wife. He talked to me about 
the conversation he had with the FBI agent, whom they have now gotten 
to know, about what had happened.
  Senator Schumer and Senator Cornyn have done a remarkable job in 
shepherding through this piece of legislation. I give them tremendous 
credit for what they have done. I do want to say, I don't think the 
Senate nor House has functioned in an appropriate manner as it relates 
to a very important piece of legislation. We have had no hearings in 
the U.S. Senate this Congress, and we have had no vote--no vote 
whatsoever--of record on this piece of legislation. As a matter of 
fact, today will be the first vote. There is no doubt by fact that we 
went through the unanimous consent process and no one objected. No one 
objected. No doubt that registered our ``yes'' votes, if you will, 
without a record on this piece of legislation.
  Yesterday I brought my niece and nephew to this building before it 
opened, and I told them about the fact that there is a place in the 
back here that from time to time I have gone to pray before a big vote, 
and how in recent times there haven't been many votes that have been 
that decisive or that have weighed on me as much as this vote today. 
Today is one of those votes.
  I have tremendous concerns about the sovereign immunity procedures 
that could be set in place by other countries as a result of this vote. 
I do. For that reason, I have circulated a letter that lays out those 
concerns, and numbers of people within this body have signed that 
letter. They have said we feel there could be in fact unintended 
consequences as a result of what we know is going to happen today.
  I have seen our country's standing in the world be eroded over the 
course of the last several years. I know there is debate over that. In 
my opinion, I have seen our standing erode. I am concerned about the 
consequences that over time this vote will have on that. At the same 
time, I believe the victims of 9/11 do deserve an outlet, a way, 
themselves, of seeking justice in this particular case.
  This, to me, is not about Saudi Arabia, it is about us, and I don't 
think the Senate has yet gotten it right as it relates to the best way 
for the 9/11 victims to seek that justice. I know this bill provides 
them a way for that to occur. I don't think it is perfect. I think a 
better way might have been to establish some type of tribunal, where 
experts could come in and really identify what actually happened on 
discretionary decisions that took place within the country of Saudi 
Arabia.
  We make decisions around here that we believe are to be in our 
national interests. I have had tremendous difficulty with this one. 
That is the reason we have generated a letter of concern to the two 
sponsors of this bill who have handled this in the manner they have. 
They have done an exemplary job. To me, the Senate has not functioned 
quite in the manner that it should, nor has the House, and I think we 
end up today with an imperfect solution.
  I have concerns about this legislation not having a waiver. I have 
concerns about the fact that over time, if this continues to build upon 
itself, we as a body--a body that, to me, could use some great 
strengthening. To me, we have a body that is in the process of building 
itself back to the place it ought to be, and we have done that over the 
last couple of years. Let's face it. The institution of the United 
States Senate itself has diminished over time, and we have work to do 
to overcome that.
  On balance, I think this bill has problems. I think we will be 
dealing with overcoming this over time, and I know numbers of us have 
joined together to express that, but I do think that to be consistent 
and to give the victims who have lost so much an opportunity to express 
themselves in this way is the appropriate thing to do at this time.
  I have read the concerns that have been expressed by the head of our 
Joint Chiefs. I read the letter that came over from the President. 
Certainly, there are significant and important points to have been 
made. As a matter of fact, 6 months ago those points might have led us 
to a slightly different place today.
  So with tremendous reservations and concerns about where this 
legislation is going to lead us, with tremendous empathy toward the 
victims--who have lived through so much, have seen loved ones gone, it 
has affected their lives and will affect their lives for the long 
term--I am going to support passage of this legislation today, but I do 
so understanding that there could be in fact unintended consequences 
that work against our national interests, and with a determination--
should that occur--to work with others within this body to try to 
overcome that.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a bipartisan letter to 
Senators Cornyn and Schumer regarding S. 2040, the Justice Against 
Sponsors of Terrorism Act, from myself and Senators Cardin, Graham, 
Feinstein, Alexander, Warner, Rounds, Reed, Roberts, Coons, Flake, 
Udall, Coats, Nelson, Thune, Shaheen, King, Carper, Cotton, McCaskill, 
Sullivan, Merkley, Risch, Schatz, McCain, Heitkamp, Hirono, and Bennet 
be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                               September 28, 2016.
     Hon. John Cornyn,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Charles E. Schumer,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators Cornyn and Schumer: We are writing regarding 
     the anticipated override of the president's veto of S. 2040, 
     the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).
       We appreciate the efforts that you have undertaken to allow 
     the families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 to 
     have additional recourse.
       We have a great deal of compassion for the families and 
     respect their desire for justice. We understand your purpose 
     in drafting this legislation is to remove obstacles so those 
     who commit or support terrorist acts in the United States 
     face the full range of consequences of the U.S. legal system. 
     However, concerns have been raised regarding potential 
     unintended consequences that may result from this legislation 
     for the national security and foreign policy of the United 
     States. If other nations respond to this bill by weakening 
     U.S. sovereign immunity protections, then the United States 
     could face private lawsuits in foreign courts as a result of 
     important military or intelligence activities.

[[Page S6172]]

       We would hope to work with you in a constructive manner to 
     appropriately mitigate those unintended consequences.
           Sincerely,
         Bob Corker (R-TN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Lindsey Graham (R-
           SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), 
           Mark Warner (D-VA), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jack Reed (D-
           RI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeff Flake 
           (R-AZ), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dan Coats (R-IN), Bill Nelson 
           (D-FL).
         John Thune (R-SD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Angus King (I-
           ME), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Claire 
           McCaskill (D-MO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jeff Merkley (D-
           OR), Jim Risch (R-ID), Brian Schatz (D-HI), John McCain 
           (R-AZ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), 
           Michael Bennet (D-CO).

  Mr. CORKER. With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor. I know the 
distinguished Senator from New York who sponsored this bill wishes to 
speak.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, how much time is left on each side?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democrats have 14 minutes remaining. The 
majority has 1 minute remaining.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I ask unanimous consent that I be allowed to finish my 
remarks and the vote occur immediately thereafter.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Tennessee. I 
know he comes at this with the best of intentions and spirit. We 
disagree, but he is an expert on foreign policy, and we all respect his 
judgment.
  I rise to speak on behalf of my bill, the Justice Against Sponsors of 
Terrorism Act, or JASTA. Soon we will vote on whether to override the 
President's veto of this bill. This is a decision I do not take 
lightly, but as one of the authors of this legislation and a firm 
believer in its purpose, I believe the Senate should confidently vote 
to override, and I will lay out the reasons why as clearly as I can.
  The bill is near and dear to my heart as a New Yorker because it 
would allow the victims of 9/11 to pursue some small measure of 
justice, finally giving them the legal avenue to pursue the foreign 
sponsors of a terrorist attack that took the lives of their loved ones.
  Unfortunately, the courts in New York have dismissed the 9/11 
victims' claims against certain foreign entities alleged to have helped 
the 9/11 attacks. These courts are following what I believe is a 
fundamentally incorrect reading of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities 
Act. Do we want it established inflexibly in precedent that foreign 
countries, directly responsible for financing terrorist acts on U.S. 
soil, are beyond the reach of justice? I don't think so. I don't think 
that. In an age where we have state sponsors of terrorism, I don't 
think that is what the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ever intended.
  For the sake of these families, it should be made clear--beyond a 
shadow of a doubt--that every entity, including foreign states, will be 
held accountable if they are sponsors of heinous acts like 9/11. It is 
very simple. If the Saudis were culpable, they should be held 
accountable. If they had nothing to do with 9/11, they have nothing to 
fear.
  I might add, the families are not simply seeking justice for 
themselves. They want to make sure Saudi Arabia or any other country in 
the future knows they will pay the consequences if they aid and abet 
terrorism. In a certain real sense, they are lighting a candle.
  When tragedy befalls somebody in a horrible and irrational way, a 
vicious way--as has befallen these families--the natural instinct the 
Scriptures tell us is to curse the darkness--why me?--to be angry, to 
turn inward, to wish the world would go away, but these families, with 
amazing fortitude, persistence, and courage, are lighting a candle. 
They are trying to make the world a better place, even though it will 
never bring their loved ones back, so it will never happen again. I so 
respect that, among many other things, about them.
  Let me address the foreign policy concerns some may have about the 
bill from which the veto arises. Senator Cornyn and I have discussed in 
depth many times on the floor how we have narrowed the bill to strike 
the proper balance between our interests abroad and the right of our 
citizens to obtain redress when they are victims of terrorism on U.S. 
soil. In fact, we penned a joint op-ed on that question in USA TODAY.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that article be printed in the 
Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                    [From USA TODAY, Sept. 27, 2016]

            Give 9/11 Families a Legal Avenue: Opposing View

                   (By Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn)

       The Senate will vote Wednesday on whether to override the 
     president's veto of our bill, the Justice Against Sponsors of 
     Terrorism Act (JASTA). As the authors of this legislation and 
     firm believers in its purpose, we believe the Senate should 
     confidently vote to override the veto. JASTA was written for 
     one main purpose: to clarify under the Foreign Sovereign 
     Immunities Act (FSIA) and the Anti-terrorism Act that every 
     entity, including foreign states, must be held accountable if 
     they are found to be sponsors of heinous acts of terrorism on 
     U.S. soil.
       If the veto is overridden, this legislation would provide a 
     legal avenue for the families of the victims of the 9/11 
     attacks to seek justice in a court of law for the terrorist 
     attacks that took the lives of their loved ones. And it would 
     deter foreign entities from sponsoring terrorism in the 
     future.
       The concerns we've heard about the legislation don't hold 
     up to scrutiny. JASTA's opponents claim that the bill will 
     subject U.S. diplomats and other government officials to a 
     raft of potential lawsuits in foreign courts. Not true; JASTA 
     simply builds on well-established principles under FSIA.
       It returns the law to the way it was before a 2008 court 
     case that granted sovereign immunity even in terrorism cases 
     where citizens are murdered on U.S. soil. In the decades 
     before this, there was no flood of lawsuits against U.S. 
     interests.
       Consistent with FSIA, as designed by Congress, victims can 
     sue a foreign government if one of its employees causes 
     damage arising from drunken driving, assault or breach of 
     contract. If U.S. victims can sue a foreign government for 
     these reasons, they should be able to sue a foreign 
     government that harms their loved ones by financing a terror 
     attack on our homeland.
       There is always an excuse not to do something, but the 
     chief argument used by JASTA's detractors is flimsy. When 
     weighed against the moral imperative to do right by the 
     families of the 9/11 victims--who continue to strongly 
     advocate for this bill--the choice is clear: Senators should 
     vote to override.

  Mr. SCHUMER. I wish to read a section of the op-ed that addresses the 
chief concern of JASTA's opponents:

       JASTA's opponents claim that the bill will subject U.S. 
     diplomats and other government officials to a raft of 
     potential lawsuits in foreign courts. Not true; JASTA simply 
     builds on well-established principles under [the Foreign 
     Sovereign Immunities Act].
       It returns the law to the way it was before a 2008 court 
     case that granted sovereign immunity even in terrorism cases 
     where citizens are murdered on U.S. soil. In the decades 
     before this, there was no flood of lawsuits against U.S. 
     interests.
       Consistent with FSIA, as designed by Congress, victims can 
     sue a foreign government if one of its employees causes 
     damage arising from drunken driving, assault or breach of 
     contract. If U.S. victims can sue a foreign government for 
     these reasons, they should be able to sue a foreign 
     government that harms their loved ones by financing a terror 
     attack on our homeland.

  Senator Cornyn and I have worked very hard over the course of 6 years 
and several iterations of the bill to strike the right balance. It has 
been a long work in progress, and I believe the measure of our success 
is reflected by the unanimous support the bill received in both Houses 
of Congress. In this body, not a single person objected when it was 
brought to the floor to be voted on.
  Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much these days, but we 
agree on JASTA. Both parties agree the families of the 9/11 victims 
deserve justice. That, more than anything else, should weigh most 
heavily on our minds today.
  It has been 15 years since that awful day--a day that changed every 
New Yorker, every American. We will never forget the shock, the fear, 
the holes in our hearts, the friends and neighbors and loved ones we 
lost, the first responders and union workers and firefighters and 
policemen who bravely rushed to the towers searching for signs of life 
in that smoldering rubble. I was there the day after. The smell of 
death was in the air. As a nation, we came together. We rebuilt. As New 
Yorkers, we did the same thing, but we will never ever forget. In this 
debate,

[[Page S6173]]

we cannot forget what this legislation means to the families of 
victims.
  It has been 15 years since Ms. Terry Estrada lost her husband Tom, 
who worked in the North Tower. Terry didn't just lose a husband, she 
lost a father to a young son 7, daughter of 4, and a newborn baby boy. 
She lost a loving father and her best friend. Terry and her children 
have championed this bill for over a decade. I thank them and all the 
other families--especially Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg, Lorie Van 
Auken, Kristin Breitweiser, Patty Casazza--for their tireless advocacy 
and patience. Of course, no compensation could ever repair the broken 
hearts of a family who lost a loved one to such mindless hate, but as 
Jane Bartels, a mother from Staten Island who lost her husband Carlton 
on that sunny morning 15 years ago put it recently, ``We just want our 
day in court.'' ``We just want our day in court.''

  The victims of 9/11 and other terrorist acts have suffered such pain 
and heartache, but they should not be denied their day in court. They 
should not be denied their pursuit of justice.
  There is always an excuse not to do something, but as Senator Cornyn 
and I have explained, the chief argument used by JASTA's detractors is 
not strong. In fact, it is flimsy. When weighed against the moral 
imperative, we have to do right by the families of the 9/11 victims. 
The choice is clear. I urge my colleagues to override.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). The question is, Shall the bill 
(S. 2040) pass, the objections of the President of the United States to 
the contrary notwithstanding?
  The yeas and nays are required under the Constitution.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Virginia (Mr. Kaine) and 
the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) are necessarily absent.
  I further announce that, if present and voting, the Senator from 
Virginia (Mr. Kaine) would vote yea.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 97, nays 1, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 148 Leg.]

                                YEAS--97

     Alexander
     Ayotte
     Baldwin
     Barrasso
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Blunt
     Booker
     Boozman
     Boxer
     Brown
     Burr
     Cantwell
     Capito
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Cassidy
     Coats
     Cochran
     Collins
     Coons
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Donnelly
     Durbin
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Feinstein
     Fischer
     Flake
     Franken
     Gardner
     Gillibrand
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hatch
     Heinrich
     Heitkamp
     Heller
     Hirono
     Hoeven
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     King
     Kirk
     Klobuchar
     Lankford
     Leahy
     Lee
     Manchin
     Markey
     McCain
     McCaskill
     McConnell
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Mikulski
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Murphy
     Murray
     Nelson
     Paul
     Perdue
     Peters
     Portman
     Reed
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Scott
     Sessions
     Shaheen
     Shelby
     Stabenow
     Sullivan
     Tester
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Udall
     Vitter
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wicker
     Wyden

                                NAYS--1

       
     Reid
       

                             NOT VOTING--2

     Kaine
     Sanders
       
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 97, the nays are 1.
  Two-thirds of the Senators voting, a quorum being present, having 
voted in the affirmative, the bill, on reconsideration, is passed, the 
objections of the President of the United States to the contrary 
notwithstanding.

                          ____________________