The House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday on a voice vote that would allow the family members of those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to sue the nation of Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts.
If signed into law, the bipartisan Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act would permit Americans to make civil claims “against a foreign state or official for injuries, death, or damages from an act of international terrorism.”
The legislation, which was approved by the Senate earlier this year, passed shortly before the 15th anniversary of the attacks and will go to President Barack Obama for consideration. He has expressed opposition to the legislation, arguing it would strain diplomatic relations with the country.
In a statement, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a co-sponsor of the bill, urged the president to sign the legislation.
“Today’s vote sends an unmistakable message that we should combat terrorism with every tool we have, and that the families of those lost in attacks like that on September 11th should have every means at their disposal to seek justice,” Cornyn said. “As we prepare to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the tragic events that took the lives of so many family members, friends, and first responders that day, we have the chance to help those who have already lost so much. It’s time to make this bill a reality, and I hope the President will sign it into law.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement provided to NBC News, "I'm pleased the House has taken this huge step forward towards justice for the families of the victims of 9/11.”
“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," Schumer said. "If they've done nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about. I hope for the sake of the families who have suffered such losses and fought so hard, the Administration will not veto this bill."
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