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                                                                                                                                                              Wednesday 18 May 2016

Senate approves Sept. 11

legislation despite Saudi threats 

RICHARD LARDNER                  In this March 16, 2016 file photo, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.                       Graham released his hold
Associated Press                speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.                                     earlier this month, clearing
WASHINGTON (AP) — The                                                                                                  the way for Senate action.
Senate passed legislation                                                                           Associated Press   Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
Tuesday that would allow                                                                                               the chairman of the Armed
families of Sept. 11 victims    have every means at their         a foreign country could sue                          Services Committee, also
to sue the government of        disposal to seek justice,”        the United States if the door                        had warned that the leg-
Saudi Arabia, rejecting the     Cornyn said.                      is opened for U.S. citizens to                       islation, if passed, would
fierce objections of a U.S.     Schumer said that any for-        take the Saudis to court.                            alienate Saudi Arabia and
ally and setting Congress       eign government that aids                                                              undermine a longstanding
on a collision course with      terrorists who strike the U.S.                                                         yet strained relationship
the Obama administration.       “will pay a price if it is prov-                                                       with a critical U.S. ally in the
The Justice Against Spon-       en they have done so.”                                                                 Middle East.
sors of Terrorism Act, ap-      Senate Democrats had                                                                   Schumer said it is false to
proved by voice vote, had       firmly supported the legisla-                                                          claim that the bill encour-
triggered a threat from Ri-     tion, putting them at odds                                                             ages retaliation or litigation
yadh to pull billions of dol-   with the Obama admin-                                                                  against the United States.
lars from the U.S. economy      istration. The White House                                                             “We’re not busy training
if the bill is enacted.         has said the bill could ex-                                                            people to blow up build-
The legislation, sponsored      pose Americans overseas                                                                ings and kill innocent ci-
by Sens. John Cornyn, R-        to legal risks, and spokes-                                                            vilians in other countries,”
Texas, and Chuck Schumer,       man Josh Earnest said Tues-                                                            Schumer said.q
D-N.Y., gives victims’ fami-    day efforts to revise the leg-
lies the right to sue in U.S.   islation fell short in address-
court for any role that ele-    ing the administration’s
ments of the Saudi govern-      concerns about preserving
ment may have played in         sovereign immunity.
the 2001 attacks that killed    “Given the concerns that
thousands in New York, the      we’ve expressed, it’s dif-
Washington, D.C., area          ficult to imagine the presi-
and Pennsylvania.               dent signing this legisla-
The House still must act on     tion,” Earnest told reporters
the legislation.                at the White House.
Relatives of Sept. 11 victims   Schumer was confident
have urged the Obama            the Senate had the nec-
administration to declas-       essary two-thirds vote of
sify and release U.S. intel-    the chamber to override a
ligence that allegedly dis-     presidential veto.
cusses possible Saudi in-       “We don’t think their ar-
volvement in the attacks.       guments stand up,”
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel     the  New  York lawmaker
bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir de-         said at a news conference
nied earlier this month that    after the Senate action.
the kingdom made any            Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-
threats over the bill. He said  S.C., the chairman of the
Riyadh had warned inves-        Senate subcommittee that
tor confidence in the U.S.      controls foreign aid, had
would shrink if the bill be-    blocked the bill from mov-
came law.                       ing to the Senate floor un-
“In fact what they (Con-        til changes were made to
gress) are doing is stripping   ensure the legislation didn’t
the principle of sovereign      backfire on the United
immunities, which would         States.
turn the world for interna-     Graham’s apprehension
tional law into the law of      was rooted in the possibility
the jungle,” Al-Jubeir said
in a May 3 statement.
The Treasury Department
said Monday that Saudi
Arabia in March held $116.8
billion in Treasury debt.
Passage of the bill sends
the message that the Unit-
ed States “will combat ter-
rorism with every tool we
have available, and that
the victims of terrorist at-
tacks in our country should
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