On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously gave 9/11 victims' families the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for its part in the attacks on America.
Co-sponsors Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) are pleased with the vote and are now urging the House to vote the same. Despite the threat from Saudi Arabia that it would sell $750 billion in U.S. securities and other assets, as well as the threat of veto from the White House, the senators believe foreign governments must be held responsible if it's discovered they are funding or supporting terrorism.
The bill is called Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act and though not aimed at Saudi Arabia, it is another step in implicating the country for its involvement in the attacks on American soil that killed almost 3,000 Americans in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Sen. Schumer said:
"Today the Senate has spoken loudly and unanimously that the families of victims of terrorist attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators, even if it's a country, a nation, accountable."
Sen. Cornyn reissued the call for the Obama administration to declassify a portion of the 9/11 report that would reveal Saudi Arabia's involvement in the attacks:
"We have yet to see the 28 pages that have not been yet released about the 9/11 report, and that may well be instructive.
"I don't believe that this will be destructive of the relationship that we have with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest assured the president will veto the bi-partisan bill, saying, "It’s difficult to imagine the president signing this legislation.”
Earnest disagrees with the senators and warned there could be "unintended consequences" that would “change longstanding international law regarding sovereign immunity and the president continues to harbor serious concerns this legislation would make the U.S. vulnerable in other court systems around the world.”
Yet, the Senate as a whole states JASTA "reaffirms the commonsense principle that no person, entity or government enjoys blanket immunity from legal responsibility for participation in a terrorist attack that takes lives or causes injury inside the United States of America.”