US lawmakers expressed doubts Thursday about the 9/11 legislation they forced on President Barack Hussein Obama, saying the new law allowing lawsuits against Saudi Arabia could be narrowed (fixed) to ease concerns about its effect on Americans abroad.
A day after the rejection of the Obama Veto, the 1st during Mr. Obama’s 8 years in the White House, the GOP leaders of the Senate and House opened the way to fixing the law blaming the the President for not consulting them adequately.
“I do think it is worth further discussing,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, acknowledging that there could be “potential consequences” of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, known as JASTA.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress might have to “fix” the legislation to protect US troops in particular.
Mr. Ryan did not give a time frame, but Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he thought JASTA’s problems could be addressed in Congress’ “lame-duck” session after the November 8 election.
The law grants an exception to the legal principle of Sovereign Immunity in cases of terrorism on US soil, clearing the way for lawsuits seeking damages from the Saudi Arabian government. Kingdom officials deny longstanding suspicions that it backed the hijackers who attacked the United States in Y 2001.
9/11 families lobbied intensely for the bill, getting it passed by the House days before the 15th anni of the Y 2001 attacks earlier this month after years of effort.
“We have to understand the political environment we’re in right now and the tremendous support the 9/11 victims have in the United States,” said Robert Jordan, a former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is one of the US’ longest-standing and Key allies in the Middle East and part of a US-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Still, the new law is not expected to have a lasting effect on the 2 countries’ 70+ years strategic relationship, as 2 countries need each other as much today as they did before the day before yesterday.
Senator Corker said he had tried to work out a compromise with the White House, but Obama Administration officials declined a meeting.
Senator Corker said the Saudis were been willing to work on a compromise, and denied they had threatened retaliation.
Trent Lott, a former Republican Senate Majority Leader now at a Washington law firm lobbying for the Saudis, said attorneys would look carefully at JASTA’s language.
“I do feel passionately this is a mistake for a variety of reasons, in terms of threats to troops, diplomats, sovereignty, there’s serious problems here. Hopefully we can find a way to change the tenor of this,” Mr. Lott said.
Have a terrific weekend.
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