Here is a statement from the office of the bill's sponsor, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan:
The U.S. House passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act in a unanimous vote. The bill, which passed the Senate earlier this year, is now on its way to the president’s desk.
This bill will ensure that American victims of terrorism, including the families of those who tragically lost their lives on 9/11, can pursue civil claims against terrorists and those who aided and abetted them. Currently, victims of terrorism can only sue countries officially designated by the State Department as sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria, but not Saudi Arabia.
“Our remembrance of one of the most tragic days in American history should include action to help the victims and their families,” Buchanan said. “The time for justice is long overdue. For too long, victims across the country have been denied their day in court, unable to hold accountable those responsible for their loss. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Buchanan noted that this legislation restores a long-established principle of American law that foreign governments are not immune from their role in aiding acts of terrorism.
Critics have long suspected that Saudi Arabia’s government may have either directly or indirectly supported the deadly terrorist attacks. And while the kingdom has admitted that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, the country has not been formally implicated in the attacks to date.
Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell off American assets in retaliation if the legislation passes.
“Even an ally like Saudi Arabia needs to understand our country will never compromise when it comes to keeping Americans safe and punishing those behind terrorist attacks,” Buchanan said.
“It’s disgraceful that victims’ families cannot get into court to make their case,” Buchanan said.
Florida’s 16th district has a tragic connection to the 9/11 attacks. President George W. Bush was reading to children in a Sarasota elementary school when he learned that a second airliner had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City. In addition, two 9/11 hijackers – Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi – took flight lessons in Venice, Florida beginning in the summer of 2000.
Buchanan has long pushed for justice for the victims of 9/11. He also co-sponsored the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act in the 113th Congress and has previously written to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., in support of the bill.
Congressman Vern Buchanan will participate this Sunday in the Sarasota Ministerial Association’s ceremony at Patriot Plaza to commemorate the 15thanniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The commemoration will be held at National Cemetery in Sarasota at 6:00 p.m.