Senate Dismisses Veto Threat, Agrees to Let Americans Sue Saudi Arabia Over Terrorist Attacks

WASHINGTON TIMES — Brushing aside a veto threat from President Obama, the Senate approved legislation Tuesday granting Americans the right to sue and collect damages from foreign countries deemed to have been complicit in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

The bill has been deeply controversial, with Saudi Arabia — fearful of lawsuits stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack — warning it would poison relations and could force them to withdraw money from U.S. holdings as retaliation. Mr. Obama has sided with the Saudi government’s threats, adding he fears other nations would respond with laws targeting the U.S.

But senators called the Saudi threat hollow, and Democrats said Mr. Obama’s veto threat didn’t trump the need to help families who lost relatives in attacks.

“If the Saudis did not participate in this terrorism, they have nothing to fear about going to court. If they did, they should be held accountable. It’s that simple,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who worked on the bill along with Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.

The bill still needs approval from the House, where Speaker Paul D. Ryan was noncommittal last month when asked about it. His office didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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