[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]D[/dropcap]ays after President Barak Obama returned from a visit of Saudi Arabia, the United States (US) Senate passed legislation Tuesday allowing Sept. 11 victims and their families to sue other states for their part in the strikes, defying White House objections and reported hazards by Saudi Arabia to sell its US debt holdings.
The move comes one day after the US Treasury Department revealed the size of Saudi Arabia’s stake for the first time in 41 years — placing its debt holdings at $116.8 billion.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said the bill was tweaked to address the issues of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who worried it would be overly broad and end up with blowback against the US.
The House would need to pass the measure to send it.
Back in April, the Obama administration had issued what amounts to a veto threat of the measure, S. 2040.
“Given the long list of matters that I’ve expressed about rolling back core principles of international law, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the president would sign this bit of legislation,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on April 18.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who said he’d vote to override a veto, joined Cornyn in asking for unanimous agreement to pass the measure and predicted enough Democrats would join to get the necessary two-thirds majority.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he White House has “major” worries about the bill, Earnest said adding that he has’t found the most recent version of the legislation.
The New York Times reported last month that Saudi officials threatened to sell $750 billion of Treasuries and other assets in the U.S. if Congress passed the bill. Cornyn said Tuesday that Saudi Arabia was making an “empty threat” and that the state would be “suffering a financial loss” if it sold the bonds.
In a related problem, the government is working to release a redacted version of a classified part of a report on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which addresses the reported participation of foreign governments.
“What this legislation means to the victims of 9/11 transcends day-to-day politics,” Schumer said. It’ll ensure that foreign authorities who backed terror attacks on U.S. land “will pay a price if it is established they’ve done so,” he added.
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