Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress — including many Texans — delivered Wednesday what might be the largest legislative blow that President Obama's administration has received.
Both the U.S. Senate and the House voted to override the president’s veto of previously passed legislation that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi Arabian government.
It was the first time that either chamber had voted to override a presidential veto during the Obama years. Congress can overrule the president's will with the support of two-thirds of each chamber.
In the Senate, members voted 97-1 against the presidential veto. On the House side, the tally was 348-77.
“I applaud my colleagues for joining together and with the American people to stand against President Obama’s attempt to deprive terror victims from receiving full recourse under the law,” Cruz said in a statement.
The president found no relief on the House side later in the day. But the split in the Texas delegation did not fall directly along party lines.
For the most part, Texans backed the override. In all, 28 of the 36 Texas members of the U.S. House — 21 Republicans and seven Democrats — supported overruling Obama.
But seven Texans voted against the measure, including several high-profile Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, who is currently battling leukemia, did not vote.
The vote was a complicated one.
Defying the wishes of families of 9/11 victims' families is an unsavory political stance, and the House initially voted on the measure on the Friday before the 15th anniversary of the 2001 attacks.
Those advocates charged that if the Saudi hands were clean, the government should have nothing to fear, according to various reports.
The Saudis, however, threatened the U.S. economically last spring if such a measure passed. But the larger concern of the Obama administration was a fear that the new law could boomerang and legally imperil American officials working overseas.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday that the Senate action is “the single most embarrassing thing this United States Senate has done” in decades.
“Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today,” Earnest said, according to The Washington Post. “To have members of the United States Senate only recently informed of the negative impact of this bill on our service members and our diplomats is in itself embarrassing.”
A Cornyn spokesman, Drew Brandewie, tweeted a curt response to Earnest's "embarrassing" comment: "It is," referring to how Obama's veto was so resoundingly rebuked by the Senate.
Read more about Texas and Congress here:
- Congress aims to avoid a shutdown and override President Obama before members return to the campaign trail.
- U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, The Woodlands Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, says there is still a path to passage for the largest trade deal in history.
- U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, battles leukemia — with a little help from his friends.