-- The White House slammed Congress for questioning the effects of a bill that would allow individuals to sue foreign governments after overriding President Obama's veto of the measure, saying that lawmakers were beginning to have "buyer's remorse" and saying that "ignorance is not an excuse."
“I think what we've seen in the United States Congress is a pretty classic case of rapid onset buyer's remorse,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in Thursday's briefing. “What's true in elementary school is true in the United States Congress -- ignorance is not an excuse.”
“We would hope to work with you in a constructive manner to appropriately mitigate those unintended consequences,” the senators wrote.
“That was a good example, it seems to me, of failure to communicate early about the potential consequences of a piece of legislation that was obviously very popular,” he said. “I told the president that this was an example of an issue we should have talked about much earlier.”
But he also acknowledged that, in their zeal to support the families of 9/11 victims, lawmakers themselves did not fully consider the potential consequences of passing a bill that might leave the U.S. open to similar litigation.
“By the time everybody seemed to focus on the potential consequences of it, members had basically already taken a position,” he said. “Everybody was aware of who the potential beneficiaries were but no one had really focused on the potential downsides in terms of our international relationship.”
Earnest had a different characterization for what happened.
“The suggestion on this part of some members of the Senate is that they didn't know what they were voting for. They didn't understand the negative consequences of the bill. That's a hard suggestion to take seriously," Earnest said.
McConnell suggested that he would be open to considering changes to the JASTA bill once Congress returns after the November elections.
Schumer, one of the key advocates of the bill, said he was also open to making tweaks, but only to a certain point.
“It has to be something that doesn't weaken the bill and limit the right of these families to get their day in court and justice,” Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader, said.