In remarks on the Senate floor on Thursday, Senator Bob Corker criticized what he said was the Obama administration’s lack of engagement ahead of Congress’ vote on Wednesday to override the president’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and expressed hope that all parties involved will be willing to engage in discussions in the weeks and months ahead.
He said, “I don't think many members are aware of this, but Senator [Ben] Cardin and myself attempted throughout the weekend to set up a meeting with the White House to go over options that could, in fact, be more beneficial to our country and at the same time give some justice to the people of 9/11.
“We were unable to get the president to convene a meeting… I had a couple of conversations with Secretary Kerry, but also I had conversations directly with the White House to set up a meeting between [not only] the president, Secretary Kerry, [Majority Leader] McConnell, [Minority Leader] Reid, [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member] Ben Cardin and myself, but also the two major sponsors of the bill. And the purpose was to see if there were issues with the bill that we voted on yesterday was there a better route.
"For reasons that still are unknown to me, that was not achievable. There was no desire whatsoever to sit down and meet. I'm unaware of any meetings that took place to try to resolve this issue.
“So, it's my hope now that we have a piece of legislation that has become law that maybe the executive branch – who by the way we tried to get to engage in this issue over the entire last year – for us to sit down and figure out an option that might work a little better than what passed yesterday on the floor. That hasn't occurred. There just has been no engagement. Even at the last minute with the first veto override facing the administration, there was just an unwillingness to sit down and discuss routes that can take us to a better place.
“So, I know there's a desire on the House side. I know there's a desire in this body as was widely expressed yesterday. There's a desire, no doubt, for the victims to be able to get the answers to the questions that they've had and to seek in their minds justice. There is a desire for that. But there's also a desire to do so in a manner that will not possibly undermine other equities that the United States government and our people have.
“I hope now that this has become law, the administration will be willing to do the same.”