A bipartisan bill is coming to the House floor for a vote on Friday that would allow families of the victims of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia for their alleged involvement. President Obama has long since expressed that such a bill would receive a veto from him.
The measure emphasizes a desire to reexamine the US.’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, a relationship has been a vital connection in the middle east for decades. Families of the victims have been pressuring lawmakers as of late as well, pushing for a vote before the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks.
“We wanted it to come to the floor, symbolically before the 15th anniversary,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, the bill’s sponsor in the House. “We’ve been aiming toward that the entire session.”
The bill has triggered a threat from Riyadh to liquidate billions of dollars of assets ultimately pulling them from the U.S. economy if the legislation is enacted. But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir denied in May that the kingdom made any threats over the bill; however, he said that Riyadh had warned that investor confidence in the U.S. would shrink if the bill became law.
The vote is being held two months after Congress released 28 declassified pages from a congressional report into 9/11. Speculation was reignited over ties at least a few of the attackers had to Saudis, including government officials, even though the allegations were never substantiated by later U.S. investigations into the terrorist attacks.
In a separate measure, a bipartisan group of senators announced Thursday that they’ve introduced a joint resolution to block the Obama administration’s proposed sale of more than $1 billion worth of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia. The reasons for this include Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights and relations with Yemen. The conflict in Yemen involves a Saudi backed coalition of Shiite rebels called Houthis that is united with army units loyal to a former president. Airstrikes have been carried out in Yemen since 2005.
“Selling $1.15 billion in tanks, guns, ammunition, and more to a country with a poor human rights record embroiled in a bitter war is a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region,” Senator Rand Paul said.
As for The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, many view that it gives families of 9/11 victims a voice they did not have, and that by blocking it Obama would be playing with fire.
A decision by Obama to veto legislation “that would give 9/11 families their well-deserved day in court would truly stain his legacy,” Brian McGlinchey, director of advocacy website 28pages.org said.