US House passes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia

Washington—The US House of Representatives passed a legislation on Friday that would allow the families of victims of the September 11, 2001 , attacks to sue Saudi Arabia’s government for damages, despite the White House’s threat to veto the measure.
The House passed the legislation on Friday by voice vote, about four months after the measure cleared the Senate despite vehement objections from Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
The White House has signaled President Barack 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 United States. There also is apprehension the bill would undermine a longstanding yet strained relationship with a critical US ally in the Middle East.
Votes from two-thirds of the members in the House and Senate would be needed to override a veto.There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia, which was preparing for the annual haj pilgrimage+ beginning Saturday.
The legislation gives 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.
Representative Ted Poe, R-Texas, said the US government should be more concerned about the families of the victims than “diplomatic niceties.” Poe said he doesn’t know if the Saudi government had a role in the attacks that killed more than 3,000 people. “That’s for a jury of Americans to decide,” Poe said.
The vote came after House members from both parties briefly adjourned to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis, led a moment of silence on the Capitol steps, and lawmakers sang “God Bless America” in remembrance of 9/11, when lawmakers gathered in the same location to sing the song immediately after the attacks on New York and Washington.The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act had triggered a threat from Riyadh to pull billions of dollars from the US economy if the legislation is enacted. — Agencies

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