WASHINGTON — The House will vote Friday on a controversial Senate bill to allow the families of 9/11 victims to pursue their lawsuit against Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts, Republican leaders said Wednesday.
The House is expected to approve the bill, as the Senate did unanimously in May, though White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said President Barack Obama will veto it.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) scheduled the vote for Friday, two days shy of the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and on the day the House will commemorate the event.
More than 3,000 people were killed when terrorists crashed planes at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
House Democrats will give consent for the vote, an aide to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said.
“I don’t see many people voting against this bill, especially in the week before Sept. 11,” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said in a phone interview.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who is in the House Democratic leadership, said he strongly supports the bill.
“I am going to vote for it. I am aware that the administration has some concerns with the bill, but I hope that in the coming days we can work out whatever differences there may be,” he said in a statement.
Survivors and families of victims of the 9/11 attacks urged the House to pass the bill and planned to attend the House commemoration Friday.
But Earnest in May said Obama will veto the bill because it could make the United States vulnerable to lawsuits in other countries’ courts.
Lobbyists for Saudi Arabia are pressing lawmakers to vote against the measure.
Two Bush administration officials, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, argued against the bill.
They said in a recent op-ed that it “shifts authority for a huge component of national security from the politically accountable branches — the president and Congress — to the judiciary, the branch least competent to deal with international matters.”
The bill would modify the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which federal courts have cited in dismissing Saudi Arabia from the lawsuit. Under the bill, the pending lawsuit could go forward to determine the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 and to seek billions of dollars in damages.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who shepherded the bill through the Senate, also urged the House to pass it.