The bill amends a law from 1976 that gives foreign countries immunity from lawsuits from the United States, and allows lawsuits from Americans against nations directly involved in terrorist attacks against United States citizens.
President Barack Obama speaks to members of the news media while meeting with Congressional leadership to discuss a Congressional agenda and his recent trip to Asia in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday.
House lawmakers passed the bill by a voice vote under suspension of the rules, a procedure that requires a two-thirds majority for passage.
President Obama has said he wants to move some of the remaining detainees to prisons on the mainland, pointing out that the US already has imprisoned some terrorists in such facilities without incident. The lack of public opposition suggests Congress could override Obama's veto for the first time in his presidency and make the measure law.
The House passed the measure on Friday just before the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
"I'm pleased the House has taken this huge step forward towards justice for the families of the victims of 9/11".
The legislation would permit the family members to file suit against the Saudi government for any possible role that its officials played in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"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 release of the so-called "28 pages" from the congressional investigation of September 11 disappointed those certain it contained proof of Saudi involvement. But the pages shed no significant new light on Saudi Arabia's alleged ties to the attack.
The activity on Capitol Hill has put Obama in the uncomfortable and deeply unpopular position of having to oppose the bill because of the blowback it may receive from overseas and the prospect that foreign nations could institute measures of their own and file lawsuits against the U.S. The sponsors of the bipartisan bill in the Senate, Sens. He said that the text has yet to reach the president's desk.
In April, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that it was "difficult to imagine a scenario where the president would sign it". Later U.S. investigations into the attacks were unable to substantiate the allegations. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also attended.
The White House has signaled that Obama will veto the legislation over concerns about exposing Americans overseas to legal risks. That effort has been complicated by Republican Party infighting over how long to extend funding.
Long-sought provisions to provide money to deal with Zika look likely to be added to a must-pass spending bill to fund the government through December 9.
Earnest said the meeting represents a chance "to discuss rather long list of priorities Congress needs to address". "Congress itself could have investigated lingering questions about 9/11, but instead is delegating those tasks to the unelected judiciary". The Senate had approved the measure in May. That bill has been filibustered by Senate Democrats since June, but negotiators say there has been progress toward a resolution.
Earnest said the administration wants to keep the current system "instead of delegating that decision to judges in courtrooms all across the country".
"There are always diplomatic considerations that get in the way of justice, but if a court proves the Saudis were complicit in 9/11, they should be held accountable", Schumer said in a statement. "Are they going to do right by the people of Louisiana?"