The House, with the 15th anniversary of 9/11 looming, approved legislation Friday permitting victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia over the terrorist attack.
Passage of the bipartisan legislation will likely prove a pyrrhic victory as the White House has already indicated President Obama will veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).
But the House vote voice, coming four months after the Senate’s approval, was at the least a symbolic triumph for relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
“It’s gratifying to see that when something is overwhelmingly in the interests of the American people, bipartisan action can happen,” said Jerry S. Goldman, attorney for several 9/11 families.
“The unity Americans felt in the days after 9/11 lives on in a determination to hold whoever was complicit in attacks on U.S. soil accountable, as existing law provides and as JASTA clarifies.”
Fifteen of the 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 terror attacks were Saudi nationals.
The legislation would permit the family members to file suit against the Saudi government for any possible role that its officials played in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Sen. Chuck Schumer has been an outspoken proponent of the bill.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.)
“I hope for the sake of the families who have suffered such losses and fought so hard, the Administration will not veto this bill,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“I’m pleased the House has taken this huge step forward towards justice for the families of the victims of 9/11,” he added. “There are always diplomatic considerations that get in the way of justice, but if a court proves the Saudis were complicit in 9/11, they should be held accountable.”
A vote of two-thirds in both the House and the Senate is necessary to override Obama’s veto.
Saudi Arabia has warned such a bill could jeopardize the nation’s relationship with the U.S.
The administration has warned that opening the door for lawsuits against the Saudis would leave the United State vulnerable to legal action brought by foreign nations.
Supporters of the legislation disagreed with that interpretation.
“If we’re not funding terrorist organizations and killing people, then we don’t have anything to worry about,” said Terry Strada, head of the 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism.