The House unanimously passed a bill allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts, sending a bill to the White House that President Barack Obama is almost certain to veto.
Lawmakers’ significant show of support comes just days before the 15th anniversary of the attacks and about an hour after lawmakers gathered on the Capitol steps to remember the victims.
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“This is a great day for America,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), speaking on the House floor before the voice vote, which was met with a round of applause from visitors sitting in the gallery.
“This is essential that justice be done,” King added. “It is essential that 9/11 families have the right to bring action in American courts.”
But a veto is almost guaranteed given opposition to the measure from the Obama administration and defense hawks, who have argued it could open up the U.S. to retaliation from other countries who enact similar laws in the future.
“When you start eroding sovereign immunity, I think it puts our people at greater danger,” said House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), who didn’t support the bill.
But supporters of the bill, the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” or JASTA, say that argument doesn’t hold water.
“I find this argument unpersuasive. The United States does not engage in international terrorist activity,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “We need not fear retaliation from another country. This is not the 1790s, the United States is a major power and can hold our own.”
With the overwhelming support in the House and Senate, lawmakers have demonstrated they have support for a veto override, which would be the first of Obama’s presidency. But that likely wouldn’t happen until the lame duck session after the election.
“I hope for the sake of the families who have …