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Obama Urged Not to 'Abandon' 9/11 Victims' Families, Allow Them to Sue Saudi Arabia

Obama Urged Not to 'Abandon' 9/11 Victims' Families, Allow Them to Sue Saudi Arabia

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

President Barack Obama could potentially face the first veto override of his presidency, after a bill allowing 9/11 victims' families to sue Saudi Arabia was unanimously passed in the House.

"We miss them. And we grieve at what they have missed in lives cut short by terrorists whose immediate targets were innocents and whose ongoing target is everything America has stood for, fought for and promised to protect and defend since our union was formed," the families said in a statement, according to CBS News.

"And we anguish especially as we witness the spread of the poisonous ideology that is determined to ensure that 9/11 was only the beginning."

Politico reported that a presidential veto of the bill is "almost guaranteed," given Obama's opposition to it. The president reportedly fears that enacting such a law could potentially lead to the U.S. being sued in foreign courts itself in the future.

"When you start eroding sovereign immunity, I think it puts our people at greater danger," explained House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who opposed the measure but did not vote against it.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said, however, that Obama's fear does not hold water.

"I find this argument unpersuasive. The United States does not engage in international terrorist activity," Nadler said.

"We need not fear retaliation from another country. This is not the 1790s, the United States is a major power and can hold our own."

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, who introduced the bill that passed the upper chamber in May, said that its main objective is to to seek justice for the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

"Today's vote sends an unmistakable message that … the families of those lost in attacks like that on September 11th should have every means at their disposal to seek justice," Cornyn said. "It's time to make this bill a reality, and I hope the president will sign it into law."

Several of the attackers involved in the terror strikes on America were Saudi citizens, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act declares, arguing that victims' families must be allowed to continue their quest for justice in U.S. courts.

"That right is important for our nation, because it will help to deter state-sponsored terrorism," the statement continued.

"It will help uncover truth — such as the mysteries surrounding the ability of 19 hijackers — barely educated, not speaking much English and without visible resources — to come to America, learn to fly, set up camps in several cities and hijack four commercial airliners, crashing them spectacularly into the heart of our government and the heart of our economy."

The emotional appeal asks Obama to not "slam the door shut and abandon us," arguing that the bill could also protect future victims of terrorism, if it is allowed to become law.

In his speech on Sunday marking the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Obama vowed that the "3,000 beautiful lives" lost that day will never be forgotten.

"We know that our diversity, our patchwork heritage, is not a weakness," Obama said. "This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to."

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