The Senate's Unanimous Vote to Let 9/11 Victims' Families Sue Saudi Arabia

The bill now goes on to the House, but President Obama has vowed to veto it, citing potential risk to Americans serving overseas.

Timothy A. Clary / Reuters

A bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the attacks is one small step closer to law Tuesday, after the Senate passed it unanimously. The bill goes on to the House, but the White House has promised to veto it.

So far, there’s been no public information linking the Saudi government to the attacks. But there are 28 pages of documentation from a congressional inquiry, which are said to detail links between Saudi officials and the hijackers. The Obama administration, pressured by former Senator Bob Graham and the families of victims, has promised to release those pages soon, though it hasn’t given a date yet. (Other officials suggest the pages may not really offer much of a smoking gun at all.)

In a statement, the families of several 9/11 victims applauded the Senate’s passage of the measure:

The American people, as well as our families, deserve the truth about 9/11 and those responsible deserve to be held to account.  JASTA promises us the truth, accountability and a strong warning that the United States finally will stand behind its promise of justice to those who were injured and the survivors of the three thousand children, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands who were murdered in our homeland on 9/11.

But the White House has remained staunchly against the bill. While Obama has broken with the Saudis on key issues recently, administration officials warn that the proposed law could expose U.S. officials and members of the armed forces to prosecution overseas. That means that even if the House follows suit, the bill’s path to law remains a tough one.