US Democratic leaders expect Senate to oppose President Barack Obama on Saudi 9/11 bill

September 13, 2016 9:40 pm

Senate Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks during a briefing on July 12, 2016 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (AFP)

The Democratic leaders of the US Senate say the chamber is likely to override President Barack Obama’s promised veto of a bill that allows families of the 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for damages.
The comments were made on Tuesday, prompting a move that would mark the first override of an Obama veto since he took office in January 2009.
The US Senate unanimously approved the bill, known as Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, in May, despite speculations that it could strain relations between Washington and Riyadh.
House Speaker Paul Ryan had also said in April that the bill needed to be reviewed “to make sure we are not making mistakes with our allies and that we’re not catching people in this that shouldn’t be caught up in this.”
The White House then signaled that Obama would veto the legislation.
This is while top Democratic leaders have reiterated their support for the bill, with Harry Reid, the Senate’s Democratic leader, saying he backs the measure.
“They’re not one of my favorite countries,” Reid said, referring to the Saudis.
Richard Durbin, another Senate Democrat, said “We’re all on the record supporting it, so at this point I think it’s a heavy lift for the president to have his veto sustained.”
Ties between Saudi officials and terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks were exposed when US lawmakers released 28 secret pages of a congressional investigation.
Several suspicious connections were outlined in the report between the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi citizens, and the monarchy’s officials; however, no definitive comment is made about the Saudi involvement.
Saudi Arabia has strongly opposed the legislation. It has threatened to sell off $750 billion in American assets if it becomes law.
The 9/11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and caused about $10 billion worth of property and infrastructure damage.
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