The Cable

House Passes Bill Allowing 9/11 Victims to Sue Saudi Officials

The White House has pledged to veto the bill if it passes in the House.

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Ahead of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that would allow the families of the victims to sue Saudi Arabia over its alleged support for terrorism. If it passes, it will amount to a largely symbolic gesture.

That’s because President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill, but there could be enough support in Congress to overcome his seal of disapproval; it passed unanimously in the House and Senate. He maintains the bill would harm Washington’s relationship with Riyadh and that such a measure would put Americans overseas at risk.

The Senate passed the bill in May, even as the White House said it would reject it if it ever got to the president’s desk. If the bill were to become law, it would allow courts to waive immunity claims by foreign officials related to those terrorist attacks.

Saudi officials have long denied any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. This summer, 28 pages of previously classified material from a congressional investigation into the 9/11 attacks concerning suspected connections between Saudi officials and the hijackers who carried out the attacks were released. The pages showed no new information linking Saudis to the attackers. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.

Families of the victims have long advocated for the bill. It wasn’t debated on either the House or Senate floors.

Photo credit: SPENCER PLATT/Getty Images

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