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Lindsey Graham Puts 9/11 Bill on Hold

Image: Lindsey Graham Puts 9/11 Bill on Hold
Sen. Lindsey Graham (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images )

By    |   Tuesday, 19 Apr 2016 03:22 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham has put the brakes on a bill he co-sponsored that allows Saudi Arabia to be held accountable for any role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The South Carolina Republican says he placed a hold on the legislation out of concern about a change made by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions that could expand the bill's scope and expose the United States to legal retaliation, The Hill reports.

"I want to make sure that anything we do doesn't come to bite us," Graham said. "Anything we do in this bill can be used against us later."

Sessions' edit hasn't been made public, and Graham conceded it "may be a good change," The Hill reports.

"It may limit the application of the bill in a way that protects us down the road," he said. "I really think I know what he's trying to do. But I've had a couple of questions that I hadn't gotten an answer to yet, and so we're working on it."

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has already warned the kingdom would sell up to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets before they could be frozen by the courts if the bill is passed, and the White House is against the legislation.

On Tuesday, a cautious House Speaker Paul Ryan weighed in as well, saying, "we need to look at it… review it 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 Hill reports.

With President Barack Obama leaving Tuesday for Saudi Arabia, members of Congress have been discussing the legislation, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in January but has not been scheduled for debate in the full Senate or House.

Some U.S. citizens whose relatives were killed in the attacks want to be able to sue the Saudi government because most of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Al-Qaida, then based in Afghanistan, was blamed and the U.S. and its allies invaded the country. No U.S. investigation to date has reported finding evidence of Saudi government support for the attacks.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama did not support the legislation and would not sign it.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said lawmakers and the Obama administration were trying to resolve concerns about whether individuals should be able to sue foreign governments.

"There are some sovereign immunity issues that need to be worked through," Corker told Reuters.

"I don't think we've yet seen the final product," Corker said. He declined to comment on whether he supported the legislation.

Corker said he had been in close contact with the administration, but had not discussed the bill with Saudi officials for some time. Ryan said the bill did not come up while he was on a visit to Riyadh.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told Reuters the bill was tied up by State Department concerns about sovereign immunity.

Grassley said he backed the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," adding, "I think Americans need some redress when they're hurt."

Material from Reuters was used in this story.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham has put the brakes on a bill he co-sponsored that allows Saudi Arabia to be held accountable for any role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
lindsey graham, 911, bill, hold
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2016-22-19
Tuesday, 19 Apr 2016 03:22 PM
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