House Passes 9/11 Bill to Let Victims' Families Sue Saudis

But veto is possible from Obama, who fears law could backfire
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 9, 2016 12:03 PM CDT
House Passes 9/11 Bill to Let Victims' Families Sue Saudis
Next step for the 9/11 bill: President Obama's desk.   (J. Scott Applewhite)

Approval of a bipartisan bill that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia puts Congress on a collision course with President Obama on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the attacks. Per the AP, the House passed the legislation Friday by voice vote, about four months after the measure cleared the Senate despite objections from Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. But the White House has signaled Obama would veto the legislation over the potential for the measure to backfire: The Obama administration cautions that if US citizens can take the Saudis to court, then a foreign country could in turn sue the US.

There's also apprehension the bill would undermine a long-standing yet strained relationship with a critical US ally in the Middle East. The vote for the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act—giving victims' families the right to sue in US court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks—comes two months after Congress released 28 declassified pages from a congressional report into 9/11 that reignited speculation over links at least a few of the attackers had to Saudis, including government officials. The allegations were never substantiated by later US investigations. The legislation had triggered a threat from Riyadh to pull billions of dollars from the US economy if the legislation is enacted. (More September 11 stories.)

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