Senior U.S. senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain proposed on Wednesday an amendment to a law that allows victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to file lawsuits against Saudi Arabia. The measure would limit the scope of possible lawsuits, Reuters reported.
Under the amendment, governments could only be sued if they were “knowingly” engaging with terrorist organizations.
In a Senate speech, Graham said the changes to the law would send a message to U.S. allies: “You can’t be sued in the United States for an act of terrorism unless you knowingly were involved, and the same applies to us in your country.”
The Senate and House rejected Obama’s veto of the law, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, in September. But lawmakers have stated that they want to amend the legislation to ease concerns of its effects on Americans overseas.
The families of 9/11 victims, who fought for the law, have voiced their opposition to the proposed change.
The group said in a statement on Wednesday that the amendment would “effectively gut” the law.
Graham argued on the Senate floor that failing to implement the change may pave the way for other countries to pass laws that hold the U.S. responsible when civilians are injured or killed during an attack on a terrorist organization.
Terry Strada, 9/11 Families national chair, called the amendment an “absolute betrayal.”
“The president-elect has made his support for JASTA crystal clear, and there is zero risk that he will support this kind of backroom backstabbing of the 9/11 families,” Strada said.
In September, Trump called Obama’s veto of the act “shameful.”
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said he’s doubtful the law could be changed before Congress adjourns next week.
Saudi Arabia has hired a number of lobbying firms since the passing of JASTA. In addition to lobbying Congress, the kingdom has also hired other firms to educate governors on the potential impacts and threats of the law.