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Obama will veto bill allowing 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia: White House

The legislation is strongly opposed by Saudi Arabia which is home to 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 terror attacks. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Washington, DC, United States Sep 13, 2016, 11.52 AM (IST)
The White House said on Monday that US  President Barack Obama would veto the bill allowing victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families to sue the Saudi government for damages. 

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed that the President does intend to veto the legislation.

The bill will allow Americans to file lawsuits against any foreign governments suspected of backing terrorism against America. 

The legislation is strongly opposed by Saudi Arabia which is home to 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 terror attacks.

He said the bill could be used as an excuse to haul US diplomats or US service members or even US companies into courts all around the world.

"You could have judges at different levels in different courtrooms, reaching different conclusions about the same country. That is not an effective, forceful way for us to respond to terrorism," Earnest said.

Earnest added that the bill endangers the concept of sovereign immunity that protects the United States as much as any other country in the world. 

Earnest anticipated a wider international reaction to the bill. He said, "So the President feels quite strongly about this. Our concern is not limited to the impact it could have on a relationship with one country, but rather it could have an impact on our relationship with every country around the world in a way that has negative consequences for the US, for our national security, and for our men and women in uniform."

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was passed in the House of Representatives by a voice vote on Friday, 

It had earlier found unanimous approval in the Senate in May. The Senate sent the bill for President's approval on Monday night, giving him a 10-day window to veto the decision. 

But even if Obama vetos the bill, Congressional aides said the measure appeared to have enough support to override his decision. 

A two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House is required for lawmakers to override an Obama veto for the first time since he took office in January 2009.

Under the Constitution, Obama could also opt for a "pocket veto," in which the president can defeat a bill just by holding onto it until Congress is out of session.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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