9/11 bill passes despite Saudi threats

The National September 11 Memorial Museum stands beyond the north reflecting poolImage copyright

Image caption

About 2,000 people were killed in the attack on New York

A bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi Arabian government has passed a key hurdle in the US Senate.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) now moves to the House of Representatives.

President Barack Obama said he’ll veto the bill, but a Democratic Senator is “confident” he’d be overruled.

Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

If it became law the legislation would allow victims’ families to sue the government of Saudi Arabia in a US court if it played a role in any element of the attack.

A White House spokesman said President Obama had serious concerns about the bill, and it was difficult to imagine he would sign it into law.

It was sponsored by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives as well.

Democratic support

Senator Schumer said: “Today the senate has spoken loudly and unanimously that the families of the victims of terror attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators even if it’s a country a nation accountable”

“It will serve as a deterrent and warning to any other nation who assists in terror attacks against American.”

He said he was confident the bill would be passed by a large margin in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell its US bonds, which would pull billions of dollars from the US economy. But the senators dismissed the threats as “hollow”.

Many Senate Democrats rebelled against the position of the President and backed the bill.

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