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Congress votes to let 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia

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[UPDATE] 12:04 p.m.

The House on Friday passed legislation that would allow terror victims of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001 to sue Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. House of Representatives will reportedly vote this week on legislation that would allow families of 9/11 to sue the nation of Saudi Arabia.

A Republican leadership source told Politico Wednesday that the House will take up the controversial legislation, which would create legal rights for 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any role the country may have played in the terror attacks.

A similar bill passed the Senate unanimously in May, and it is expected to pass the House as well. 

Obama administration opposes the bill

Though the bill has broad support in the Senate, it is currently opposed by the Obama administration for two reasons:

  • There are concerns it would damage the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia.
  • Americans could be put in danger if other countries pass similar laws.
It's difficult to imagine a scenario in which the president would sign the bill as it's currently drafted.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

"The whole notion of sovereign immunity is at stake," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in April, signaling that President Obama would veto the bill if it came to his desk.

Two senior Bush administration officials also urged Congress not to pass the bill in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week. 

Did Saudis have a role in 9/11?

Though it has not been confirmed, public suspicion has lingered for years that the Saudi government gave support to Osama bin Laden before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

A previously classified congressional report released by the Obama administration this summer fed into those suspicions, though the White House has asserted the report shows no connection between the Saudis and Al Qaeda. 

Some families want the right to sue

If it is found that Saudi Arabian officials played a role in the terror attacks, some families of 9/11 victims want the right to sue.

"I want the Saudis, if they are found guilty, to pay," Donna Marsh O'Connor wrote in the Guardian in May.

"[T]here should be justice meted out in courts, and those culpable for the manipulation of lives and deaths ought to pay, in every and any way possible."

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