Two top Senate Democrats are pushing President Obama to sign a bill that allows the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), expected to be the next Senate Democratic leader, and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to the president urging him to support the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). 
 
{mosads}”This bill closes a loophole that denies a fair day in court to American victims of heinous terrorist attacks. We urge you to sign this bill without delay,” the two senators wrote in the letter, which was released hours after the legislation passed the House unanimously.
 
The legislation — spearheaded by Schumer and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — has pitted congressional Democrats against the White House, which has concerns that the proposal will undermine the U.S.-Saudi relationship and could spark retaliation against the United States. 
 
But the two Democratic senators argued in their letter that if the Saudi government isn’t connected to the attacks, then “it has nothing to fear from litigation.” 
 
“A court proceeding would allow it to demonstrate its innocence in a neutral, public forum,” they added. “If Saudi Arabia was culpable, it should be held accountable.” 

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, and critics have long suspected that the government has ties either directly or indirectly to the attacks. Saudi officials have denied that their government had any role in plotting the attacks. 

The potential showdown between Congress and Obama comes days before the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, with the president having 10 days to either sign or reject the legislation. 
 
Supporters of the legislation, including Schumer, have voiced confidence that they would have the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. If they were successful, it would be the first time Congress has overturned a veto under Obama. 
 
The White House has not issues a specific veto threat, but an administration official said ahead of the House vote this week that they have “serious concerns” about the legislation as written. 

Under current U.S. law, victims may sue a country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, such as Iran. The bill would allow citizens to sue countries without that designation, including Saudi Arabia. 

Tags Charles Schumer John Cornyn Richard Blumenthal
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