9/11 Families United Calls on House Judiciary Committee to Stand Firm Against Saudi Lobbying Pressure, Pass Critical Legislation Supporting Victims of Terrorism

Committee to Hold Markup Today of the “Ensuring Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act”

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of a scheduled markup in the House Judiciary Committee, 9/11 Families United, which represents a community of over 10,000 family members, survivors, and those who were injured in or sickened from the worst terrorist attacks in American history, today called on Committee members in both parties to stand firm against a concerted influence campaign by high-priced lobbyists for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to support H.R. 4951, the Ensuring Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (EJVTA).

The bipartisan EJVTA, which was introduced by U.S. Reps. Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) and Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), reaffirms the intent of Congress when it passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in 2016 that American victims of terrorism on American soil can seek financial compensation from foreign sponsors of terrorism. Companion legislation (S.2082) has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate with the support of leading Senators in both parties. 

However, just as the Kingdom did in 2016 in a failed effort to block JASTA, the Saudis have retained a number of high-priced K Street lobbying firms to try to block the EJVTA and are actively lobbying members of the House Judiciary Committee to oppose it.  As POLITICO reported last week, “[A]lthough some K Street firms dropped Saudi Arabia as a client following the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi government entities now have roughly more than 20 firms working on their behalf.

“The 9/11 community overwhelmingly supports the EJVTA, and we thank Committee Chairman Jim Jordan for scheduling this markup, as well as Congressman Van Drew and Nadler for their leadership on this critical issue,” said Terry Strada, National Chair of 9/11 Families United. “We know that at this moment, high-priced Saudi lobbyists are actively fighting to block this legislation, and it is our hope that Members of Congress will stand with the 9/11 community against the Kingdom’s influence campaign. For over 20 years, we have fought for accountability and transparency into the worst terrorist attack in American history, and passage of the EJVTA is critical to that effort.”

“The EJVTA reaffirms settled congressional policymaking by guaranteeing that all American victims of terrorism on American soil can pursue their legal rights, consistent with the promise Congress made to terrorism victims and particularly the 9/11 community.  The 9/11 community is counting on our elected leaders in both parties to join together to move this legislation forward in the House Judiciary Committee and for the full House to consider and pass it as soon as possible,” Strada said. 

Click Here to learn more about the EJVTA and to see a September 2023 letter signed by thousands of 9/11 community members to Congress in support of this legislation

The passage of JASTA has allowed the 9/11 community to move forward with its still-ongoing litigation against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s high-priced lawyers have been aggressively opposing the 9/11 families in federal court in New York City and have sought to exploit several drafting oversights in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in an effort to allow the Kingdom to avoid accountability.   

As U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the lead Senate Republican sponsor of both JASTA and the EJVTA, explained recently:

  • By making minor technical edits, this bill makes sure JASTA works the way it was intended to, reaffirms our commitment to holding sponsors of terrorism accountable, and ensures victims’ families can continue to seek justice against those who perpetrated these horrific acts.” [Click Here For More]

Additional Background:

  • The EJVTA is a modest, technical corrections bill to address three drafting oversights in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).  These technical corrections break no new policy ground, but simply:
  • reaffirm that the ATA’s aiding and abetting liability cause of action applies as to foreign states;
    • provide that those facing judgments face the normal execution procedures in like cases; and
    • ensure that all damaged and injured parties can bring their claims.
  • The EJVTA is supported by over 99% of September 11 victims’ family members, injured survivors, and those who are sick and dying from 9/11-related illnesses—more than 10,000 Americans seeking justice for the murder of their loved ones and injured survivors.
  • These technical corrections do not relate to President Obama’s ill-advised veto of JASTA in 2016, which Congress easily overrode (97-1; 348-77). President Obama had concerns about the sovereign immunity portions of the bill, predicting dire international consequences that never materialized in any form whatsoever. President Obama did not express any objections to the provisions addressed by the EJVTA, nor did those who supported his veto.

Since JASTA’s passage, the 9/11 community has been pursuing justice and accountability in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Misinterpretations of JASTA by that court have made EJVTA necessary.

About 9/11 Families United:

9/11 Families United is an organization consisting of family members of those murdered in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as many of those who survived, were injured in or sickened from the attacks, a community that numbers well over 10,000.  More information is at www.911familiesunited.org.