The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia’s government for damages, setting up a potential showdown with the White House, which has threatened a veto.
The Saudis, who deny responsibility for the 2001 attacks, strongly object to the bill. They had said they might sell up to $750 billion in U.S. securities and other American assets in retaliation if it became law.
The “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” or JASTA, passed the Senate by unanimous voice vote. It must next be taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives, where the Judiciary Committee intends to hold a hearing on the measure in the near future, a committee aide said.
If it became law, JASTA would remove the sovereign immunity, preventing lawsuits against governments, for countries found to be involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. It would allow survivors of the attacks, and relatives of those killed in the attacks, to seek damages from other countries.