The Senate is getting ready to move a bipartisan bill that would let U.S. victims of terrorism sue foreign governments that helped fund those terrorist acts.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is a response to court decisions that have said victims of the 9/11 attacks cannot sue Saudi Arabia and Qatar, even though those countries played a role in funding the terrorists involved in those attacks.
The sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), said Monday that the bill would soon move in the upper chamber, and that he’s hopeful it can be passed into law by the end of this year.
“Terrorism didn’t just happen on its own,” Schumer said, according to the New York Daily News. “Of course, it took a group of fanatical evil people, but it also took money. There are many countries and groups that funded Al Qaeda.”
“Our legislation will cut off resources for countries and groups to be able to aid the evil of terrorism,” he added.
JP Updates, a Jewish news site, reported that Schumer has a commitment from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) to consider the bill in committee next week, in time for the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The legislation would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to that foreign entities could not claim sovereign immunity in law suits related to terrorism. It would therefore allow civil suits against foreign entities who fund terrorist acts.
While the bill is clearly aimed at letting 9/11 victims seek compensation from foreign countries, Schumer and other supporters also believe it could create an incentive for these governments to stop funding future terrorist activities.
The bill is one of the few bipartisan measures that has a shot of moving in Congress this year. Schumer’s Senate bill has five Republican cosponsors, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Mike Lee (Utah).
The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), has 10 GOP and eight Democratic cosponsors.