The House voted Friday to allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the state of Saudi Arabia for their alleged ties to terrorism. The vote comes four months after the Senate voted the bill through, but proponents worry that President Obama will veto the bill.
“We are in the same place we were the last time,” a White House official told NBC on Friday.
Obama said in April he would veto the bill. The White House says that the bill’s enactment could put American officials overseas in danger.
By opening up the prospect of victims suing governments (or states), the United States could be opening itself up to law suits from individuals who feel that the country has committed crimes in their nation — like victims of drones in Pakistan, or civilians killed by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition in Yemen.
“It could put the United States and our taxpayers and our service members and our diplomats at significant risk if other countries were to adopt a similar law,” White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said last April. “The whole notion of sovereign immunity is at stake.”
The veto also speaks of the close relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. U.S. Congress has caught Saudi in its cross-hairs as of late, particularly honing in on Saudi’s conduct in Yemen and this 9/11 bill (which the house called a “moral imperative”), and the Saudi’s are publicly unhappy with the Obama administration over inaction in Syria and the thawing of relations with Iran.
Despite the disagreements, experts and analysts told ThinkProgress recently that the relationship with the United States wouldn’t change based on Congressional actions — only decisions taken by the administration.
“The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. is based on the U.S. administration and not on Congress — that’s neither here nor there,” Dr. Zubair Iqbal, an adjunct scholar with the Middle East Institute and an expert on Saudi Arabia, told ThinkProgress. “The position will remain stagnant until there is a new president and then they will think very hard about what they want to do.”
The bill passed on Friday despite the release of the notorious 28 pages — a missing section of the congressional 9/11 report. The 28 pages that were released in July did not provide the evidence that some suspected would tie the financing of the 9/11 attacks to the Saudi royal family.