The House voted August 9th, 2016 to approve legislation allowing 9/11 families and survivors to sue Saudi Arabia regarding the assaults.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) passed the House with a voice vote. However, now it will go to President Obama, who has threatened to veto the bill. The Senate passed the same bill in May unanimously.
Obama says the bill could open the door for different countries to allow lawsuits against Americans in courts overseas. He also says it would threaten U.S. and Saudi relations. However, Congress has enough votes to override.
House officials wrote an appeal to Obama not to veto the bill. They say it’s poorly written and only tries to clarify 1996 enactment allowing families of terrorism victims and survivors with injuries to sue in federal court for damages under an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976.
That particular instance denied jurisdictional protection for governments determined to support terrorism. New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler says it’s been in effect for a long time with no issues.
Nadler said the bill that was approved Friday would settle “an erroneous court decision” that rejects an attempt to investigate the Saudis’ role in the 2001 attacks. In September, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels said the court lacks jurisdiction.
“The legislation gives access to the courts, to the rule of law,” said Republican Rep.Ted Poe of Texas. He said the jury would decide if the Saudis were a part of the terrorist attacks.
The surviving terrorists in the 9/11 attacks are currently in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in military confinement. They are still waiting for trial. However, others who were a part of planning the attacks have yet to come forward and tried in U.S. courts.
Family members of 9/11 victims said the legislation would allow a few dozen lawsuits, brought into one case on behalf of the 9/11 victims and a few insurance agencies, to proceed as attorneys try to prove the Saudi government was part of the terrorist plot.
In July, the Obama organization declassified 28 pages of the report from the 9/11 Commission. The reports indicate multiple connections between the terrorists and partners of Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar, the previous long-term ambassador to the United States.
The report also notes a money trail from the royal Saudi family to Saudis living in the U.S. and two of the 9/11 hijackers in San Diego. The records also show significant support to California mosques where radical Islamist sentiments ran high.
D-Texas, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, says that 15 of the 19 terrorists who were part of the 2001 assaults are Saudi, and he said Saudi Arabia has a long history of funding terrorism.