JUSTICE AGAINST SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 136
(House of Representatives - September 09, 2016)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages H5239-H5244]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (S. 2040) to deter terrorism, provide justice for victims, and for 
other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                S. 2040

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Justice Against Sponsors of 
     Terrorism Act''.


       (a) Findings.--Congress finds the following:
       (1) International terrorism is a serious and deadly problem 
     that threatens the vital interests of the United States.
       (2) International terrorism affects the interstate and 
     foreign commerce of the United States by harming 
     international trade and market stability, and limiting 
     international travel by United States citizens as well as 
     foreign visitors to the United States.
       (3) Some foreign terrorist organizations, acting through 
     affiliated groups or individuals, raise significant funds 
     outside of the United States for conduct directed and 
     targeted at the United States.
       (4) It is necessary to recognize the substantive causes of 
     action for aiding and abetting and conspiracy liability under 
     chapter 113B of title 18, United States Code.

[[Page H5240]]

       (5) The decision of the United States Court of Appeals for 
     the District of Columbia in Halberstam v. Welch, 705 F.2d 472 
     (D.C. Cir. 1983), which has been widely recognized as the 
     leading case regarding Federal civil aiding and abetting and 
     conspiracy liability, including by the Supreme Court of the 
     United States, provides the proper legal framework for how 
     such liability should function in the context of chapter 113B 
     of title 18, United States Code.
       (6) Persons, entities, or countries that knowingly or 
     recklessly contribute material support or resources, directly 
     or indirectly, to persons or organizations that pose a 
     significant risk of committing acts of terrorism that 
     threaten the security of nationals of the United States or 
     the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the 
     United States, necessarily direct their conduct at the United 
     States, and should reasonably anticipate being brought to 
     court in the United States to answer for such activities.
       (7) The United States has a vital interest in providing 
     persons and entities injured as a result of terrorist attacks 
     committed within the United States with full access to the 
     court system in order to pursue civil claims against persons, 
     entities, or countries that have knowingly or recklessly 
     provided material support or resources, directly or 
     indirectly, to the persons or organizations responsible for 
     their injuries.
       (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to provide civil 
     litigants with the broadest possible basis, consistent with 
     the Constitution of the United States, to seek relief against 
     persons, entities, and foreign countries, wherever acting and 
     wherever they may be found, that have provided material 
     support, directly or indirectly, to foreign organizations or 
     persons that engage in terrorist activities against the 
     United States.


       (a) In General.--Chapter 97 of title 28, United States 
     Code, is amended by inserting after section 1605A the 

     ``Sec. 1605B. Responsibility of foreign states for 
       international terrorism against the United States

       ``(a) Definition.--In this section, the term `international 
       ``(1) has the meaning given the term in section 2331 of 
     title 18, United States Code; and
       ``(2) does not include any act of war (as defined in that 
       ``(b) Responsibility of Foreign States.--A foreign state 
     shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of 
     the United States in any case in which money damages are 
     sought against a foreign state for physical injury to person 
     or property or death occurring in the United States and 
     caused by--
       ``(1) an act of international terrorism in the United 
     States; and
       ``(2) a tortious act or acts of the foreign state, or of 
     any official, employee, or agent of that foreign state while 
     acting within the scope of his or her office, employment, or 
     agency, regardless where the tortious act or acts of the 
     foreign state occurred.
       ``(c) Claims by Nationals of the United States.--
     Notwithstanding section 2337(2) of title 18, a national of 
     the United States may bring a claim against a foreign state 
     in accordance with section 2333 of that title if the foreign 
     state would not be immune under subsection (b).
       ``(d) Rule of Construction.--A foreign state shall not be 
     subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the United 
     States under subsection (b) on the basis of an omission or a 
     tortious act or acts that constitute mere negligence.''.
       (b) Technical and Conforming Amendments.--
       (1) The table of sections for chapter 97 of title 28, 
     United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item 
     relating to section 1605A the following:

``1605B. Responsibility of foreign states for international terrorism 
              against the United States.''.

       (2) Subsection 1605(g)(1)(A) of title 28, United States 
     Code, is amended by inserting ``or section 1605B'' after 
     ``but for section 1605A''.

                   REGARDING TERRORIST ACTS.

       (a) In General.--Section 2333 of title 18, United States 
     Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(d) Liability.--
       ``(1) Definition.--In this subsection, the term `person' 
     has the meaning given the term in section 1 of title 1.
       ``(2) Liability.--In an action under subsection (a) for an 
     injury arising from an act of international terrorism 
     committed, planned, or authorized by an organization that had 
     been designated as a foreign terrorist organization under 
     section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1189), as of the date on which such act of international 
     terrorism was committed, planned, or authorized, liability 
     may be asserted as to any person who aids and abets, by 
     knowingly providing substantial assistance, or who conspires 
     with the person who committed such an act of international 
       (b) Effect on Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.--Nothing in 
     the amendment made by this section affects immunity of a 
     foreign state, as that term is defined in section 1603 of 
     title 28, United States Code, from jurisdiction under other 


       (a) Exclusive Jurisdiction.--The courts of the United 
     States shall have exclusive jurisdiction in any action in 
     which a foreign state is subject to the jurisdiction of a 
     court of the United States under section 1605B of title 28, 
     United States Code, as added by section 3(a) of this Act.
       (b) Intervention.--The Attorney General may intervene in 
     any action in which a foreign state is subject to the 
     jurisdiction of a court of the United States under section 
     1605B of title 28, United States Code, as added by section 
     3(a) of this Act, for the purpose of seeking a stay of the 
     civil action, in whole or in part.
       (c) Stay.--
       (1) In general.--A court of the United States may stay a 
     proceeding against a foreign state if the Secretary of State 
     certifies that the United States is engaged in good faith 
     discussions with the foreign state defendant concerning the 
     resolution of the claims against the foreign state, or any 
     other parties as to whom a stay of claims is sought.
       (2) Duration.--
       (A) In general.--A stay under this section may be granted 
     for not more than 180 days.
       (B) Extension.--
       (i) In general.--The Attorney General may petition the 
     court for an extension of the stay for additional 180-day 
       (ii) Recertification.--A court shall grant an extension 
     under clause (i) if the Secretary of State recertifies that 
     the United States remains engaged in good faith discussions 
     with the foreign state defendant concerning the resolution of 
     the claims against the foreign state, or any other parties as 
     to whom a stay of claims is sought.


       If any provision of this Act or any amendment made by this 
     Act, or the application of a provision or amendment to any 
     person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder 
     of this Act and the amendments made by this Act, and the 
     application of the provisions and amendments to any other 
     person not similarly situated or to other circumstances, 
     shall not be affected by the holding.


       The amendments made by this Act shall apply to any civil 
       (1) pending on, or commenced on or after, the date of 
     enactment of this Act; and
       (2) arising out of an injury to a person, property, or 
     business on or after September 11, 2001.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia.

                             General Leave

  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous materials to S. 2040, under current 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Virginia?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act has been 
introduced over several successive Congresses and has twice passed the 
Senate. Over the years that this legislation has been considered, I 
have worked with its sponsors to make the bill's language more precise 
in order to ensure that any unintended consequences are kept to a 
  In particular, I have worked to make sure that JASTA's extension of 
secondary liability under the Anti-Terrorism Act closely tracks the 
common law standard for aiding and abetting liability and is limited to 
State Department-designated foreign terrorist organizations.
  Secondary liability should only attach to persons who have actual 
knowledge that they are directly providing substantial assistance to a 
designated foreign terrorist organization in connection with the 
commission of an act of international terrorism. JASTA, as revised in 
the Senate Judiciary Committee, ensures that aiding and abetting 
liability is limited in this manner.
  In addition to the Anti-Terrorism Act, JASTA amends the Foreign 
Sovereign Immunities Act to waive the sovereign immunity of any country 
that sponsors an act of international terrorism that causes physical 
injury on U.S. soil.
  JASTA makes this change because, under current law, a foreign nation 
can provide financing and other substantial assistance for a terrorist 
attack in our country and escape liability so long as the support is 
provided overseas.

[[Page H5241]]

  For example, under current law, if the intelligence agency of a 
foreign government handed a terrorist a bag of money in New York City 
to support an attack on U.S. soil, the country would be liable under 
the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's tort exception right now. 
However, if we change the fact pattern slightly so that, rather than 
giving a terrorist money in New York City, the money is provided in 
Paris, the foreign state will not be subject to liability in U.S. 
  This is a troubling loophole in our antiterrorism laws to say that a 
terrorist attack occurring in the United States, a tort occurring in 
the United States on U.S. citizens, would not allow U.S. citizens 
access to their own courts for a tort that occurred in their own 
  When Congress enacted the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in 1976, 
it put in place a broad set of exceptions to sovereign immunity, 
including an exception for tort claims involving injuries occurring in 
the United States. However, the courts have not consistently 
interpreted those exceptions in such a manner that they cover the 
sponsoring of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
  JASTA addresses this inconsistency with a concrete rule that is 
consistent with the nine, longstanding exceptions to foreign sovereign 
immunity already provided for under U.S. law.
  JASTA ensures that those, including foreign governments, who sponsor 
terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are held fully accountable for their 
actions. We can no longer allow those who injure and kill Americans to 
hide behind legal loopholes, denying justice to the victims of 
  I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the gentleman 
from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) control the balance of the time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from New York, a senior 
member of the committee with whom I have worked for many years, for 
  Mr. Speaker, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United 
States was the deadliest foreign attack on American soil in our 
Nation's history. Its impact has been immeasurable, as evidenced by the 
fact that we are still grappling with the cultural and policy 
implications stemming from the events of that day. And, 15 years on, 
most Americans continue to feel its searing emotional impact, 
particularly as the anniversary date approaches this Sunday. This is 
especially true for those who lost loved ones or were injured as a 
result of this horrific attack. They deserve our deepest sympathy and 
our help.

  So it is in this vein that we consider S. 2040, the Justice Against 
Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which, among other things, amends the 
Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 to create a new exception to 
the act's general grant of foreign sovereign immunity.
  The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on this bill last July, at 
which the bill's supporters presented compelling and sympathetic 
arguments in favor of ensuring that the 9/11 families have access to a 
well-deserved day in court. At the same time, however, the 
administration and others raised a number of concerns about the bill's 
potential impact that we should keep in mind.
  First, the administration, some allied nations, and others, assert 
that the enactment of S. 2040 may lead to retaliation by other 
countries against the United States, given the breadth of our interests 
and the expansive reach of our global activities.
  Secondly, they assert that the bill will hamper cooperation from 
other nations because they may become more reluctant to share sensitive 
intelligence, in light of the greater risk that such information may be 
revealed in litigation.
  Moreover, they raise the concern that the bill, effectively, would 
allow private litigants rather than the government to determine foreign 
and national security policy questions like which states are sponsors 
of terrorism.
  Because of the moral imperative of enacting legislation and the 
seriousness of the concerns raised, I remain hopeful that we can 
continue to work with the administration to resolve these issues so 
that legislation can be signed into law by the President.
  I also want to acknowledge Representatives Peter King and, 
particularly, Jerrold Nadler, and Senators John Cornyn and Charles 
Schumer for their tireless leadership and efforts to achieve 
congressional passage of this measure. There is no doubt as to the 
passion they bring for advocating for victims of the September 11, 
2001, attacks--a passion that I, and many others, share.

                              {time}  1115

  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, at this time, it is my pleasure to yield 
3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe), a distinguished member 
of the Judiciary Committee, and welcome him back.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, Sunday marks 15 years since America 
was viciously attacked in 2001. Everyone remembers what they were 
doing. I was driving my Jeep to the courthouse in Texas, where I was a 
judge. People stopped on the side of the road because they were 
listening to the radio about how planes were used as a weapon to attack 
our Nation.
  Three thousand Americans and people from other nations were murdered 
at the hands of evil, malicious terrorists, and our country changed 
forever that day. The lives of those families especially changed, those 
families that suffered loved ones who were killed and injured and are 
still injured today.
  Meanwhile, we are here debating whether or not these families of the 
victims deserve their basic right, under the Constitution of the U.S., 
to their day in court, the right to sue the perpetrators. I don't think 
there should be much dissenting on this issue.
  Mr. Speaker, if any foreign government, if it can be shown to have 
supported a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, American victims ought to 
have the right to sue that country. Based on the 28 pages held secret 
for years, there may be evidence that the country of Saudi Arabia and 
their officials may have had some involvement in planning the elements 
of that attack. I don't know. That is what the courtroom is for. 
Whether this involvement rises to the level to be held accountable at 
trial is an issue for a jury of Americans to decide.
  It is interesting that Saudi Arabia objects to this legislation. 
Methinks they object too much.
  Like any other issue, we should let a jury decide the damages, what 
they should be, whether there should be any at all. The legislation 
gives the victims' families access to the courts, to the rule of law, 
and we, as a people, should be more concerned about these victims of 
terror than we are about diplomatic niceties with other countries.
  The voices of the murdered cry out for us to do justice, and justice 
has been waiting too long; 15 years for justice.
  Mr. Speaker, justice is what we do in this country, and that is what 
these victims and their families want.
  And that is just the way it is.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased now to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler), who has been working on this 
issue for such a long time.
  Mr. NADLER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of JASTA. I am proud to be the 
lead Democratic sponsor of this bill, alongside my friend from New York 
(Mr. King), and I appreciate all of his hard work on this legislation.
  On Sunday, we will observe the 15th anniversary of the September 11 
terrorist attacks, when thousands of Americans were brutally murdered 
in my district in New York, as well as at the Pentagon, and in 
Shanksville, Pennsylvania. JASTA would help ensure that those 
responsible for aiding and abetting those attacks are held accountable 
for their actions.
  Unfortunately, because of certain court decisions misinterpreting the 
Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act, the 9/11 
victims and their families have been unable to pursue their claims in 

[[Page H5242]]

against some of the parties they believe were responsible for funding 
the attacks.
  JASTA simply reinstates what was understood to be the law for 30 
years, that foreign states may be brought to justice for aiding and 
abetting acts of international terrorism that occur on American soil, 
whether or not the conduct that facilitated the attack occurred in the 
United States.
  Think of it this way: some courts have held that if a foreign 
government agent hands over a $1 million check to al Qaeda in a cafe in 
New York in order to fund a terrorist attack in the United States, that 
government can be sued in an American court. But if that same foreign 
agent funds the same attack by handing over the same $1 million check 
in a cafe in Geneva, his government should be immune from liability.
  That makes no sense, and it flies in the face of what had been 
settled law for many years. We must correct these erroneous court 
decisions so that anyone who facilitates a terrorist attack on our 
people can be brought to justice.
  Let me be clear. This legislation does not prejudge the merits of any 
particular case. It simply ensures that the 9/11 families, or anyone 
who may face the same situation, can plead their case in court.
  Some critics of this bill have argued that if we pass it, other 
nations may retaliate by enacting similar laws that could subject 
Americans, or the United States itself, to liability in those 
countries. I find this argument unpersuasive. The United States does 
not engage in international terrorist activity and would not face any 
legal jeopardy if a law like JASTA were enacted anywhere else.
  Furthermore, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and its well-
established tort exception, have been the law for 40 years. In that 
time, we simply have not seen the parade of horribles that some critics 
imagine would happen if this bill were to become law.
  We cannot allow threats from a country that fears being held to 
account for its actions, and may threaten retaliation of some sort, to 
deny victims of terrorist attacks their day in court. Moreover, this 
legislation contains a reasonable provision allowing for a stay of 
court proceedings if the President is engaging in good faith 
negotiations to resolve the claim through diplomatic channels.
  We need not fear retaliation from another country. This is not the 
1790s. The United States is a major power and can hold our own.
  JASTA is a narrow bill that has been carefully negotiated over the 
last 6 years, and which passed the Senate unanimously in May. It would 
provide clarity to the courts, and justice to the victims of 9/11, and 
it deserves swift passage today.

  I urge all my colleagues to vote for this bill.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, at this time, it is my pleasure to yield 
3 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. King), the chief sponsor 
of this legislation.
  Mr. KING of New York. I thank the chairman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, this is a great day for America. Let me, at the outset, 
commend Chairman Goodlatte for the outstanding work that he has done, 
for always keeping his word, for being a person we could always count 
on to do what had to be done, and always told us what he was doing, and 
always carried everything out. So I thank Bob very much.
  Let me thank the Speaker of the House, Mr. Ryan; the Majority Leader, 
Mr. McCarthy; the Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer; and 
my good friend, Jerry Nadler, for being there from day one.
  Also, let me thank former Congressman Dan Lungren, who was the 
original lead sponsor of this bill going back several years.
  Let me also thank the 9/11 families for the fact that they have 
never, ever yielded. They have never stepped back. They have always 
kept this issue on the front burner at a time when too many Americans 
choose to look the other way.
  I especially want to thank Terry Strada and the great work that she 
has done. Her husband, Tom, her father-in-law, Ernie, and her mother-
in-law, Mary Ann, are very good friends. I want to again thank her for 
the job that she did. And her husband, certainly she is carrying on his 
name; and Terry, I thank you for that.
  This is essential. It is essential that justice be done. It is 
essential that 9/11 families have the right to bring action in American 
courts. As Judge Poe said, this is the most basic constitutional right. 
This is an obligation. It is an obligation we, in the Congress, have to 
not allow foreign lobbyists or foreign countries or anyone else to 
intimidate us.
  Justice must be done, and we want to make sure that there are no more 
9/11s. This is one more step we can take to show foreign governments 
they cannot step aside, they cannot walk away when something is carried 
out, where they are sort of looking the other way to make believe it is 
not happening.
  I am not prejudging the case, but the fact is the 9/11 families have 
the right to have this resolved in court, and I am proud to stand with 
  I want to commend my colleague, Dan Donovan. From the day he arrived 
here in Congress, this has been a major issue for him. The Zadroga Act 
and JASTA is what propels him and certainly has motivated me.
  So, again, I want to thank all the 
9/11 families for all the work they have done. It is a bipartisan 
effort. It is an American effort, and we can be very proud as we go 
into the 15th anniversary of the most horrible day in America that we 
have not given up the fight. We will continue to fight and we will win.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney).
  Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the 
gentleman for yielding and for all of his hard work on this bill and 
  I thank Chairman Goodlatte for his hard work in helping to bring it 
to the floor. I thank my colleagues from New York, Congressmen King and 
Nadler, for their hard work.
  This is an important, important bill, and I rise today, 2 days before 
the 15th anniversary of 9/11, to express my strong support for the 
passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
  The attacks of 9/11 were acts of appalling cruelty. They targeted, 
knowingly and specifically, innocent Americans who just got up and went 
to work like every other American and were killed on 9/11.
  Though the hijackers of those planes died that day, it is virtually 
indisputable that people who conspired with them in the planning, 
preparation, execution, and financing of those horrific acts walk the 
streets freely in foreign capitals today.
  In fact, they are protected by a peculiar interpretation of 
international law that shields them from justice in U.S. courts for 
terrorist acts on U.S. soil.
  This bill, a version of which passed the Senate unanimously, would 
correct misinterpretations of previous legislation and lower court 
decisions, and empower survivors and families of the victims of 
international terrorism to seek a measure of justice through our civil 
court system.
  This bill is needed because both the Congress and the executive have 
affirmed that civil litigation against terror sponsors, including 
governments, can have an important deterrent effect.
  This bill is also mindful of the concerns some have about its 
possible effect on sovereign immunity. For that reason, it is narrowly 
focused and applies only to attacks committed on U.S. soil that harm 
U.S. nationals.
  The attacks of 9/11 were roundly condemned by people and governments 
around the world, so this bill is needed not just for the families of 
those who died in New York and at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, but 
it is needed by people around the world.
  We know we lost, roughly, 3,000 people on 9/11, but thousands and 
thousands more have died since the attacks because of the diseases that 
they now have because of being exposed to the toxins down at Ground 
Zero. Now they are predicting that, roughly, 15 people a day are 
concerned because cancer is now in their bodies from the exposure. So 
our people are still suffering.
  Fifteen years is a long time to wait. This bill is needed. Justice, 
we need justice. I think it is a strong deterrent. I am proud of the 
United States Congress and the legislative body of this country for 
standing up and passing this bill.

[[Page H5243]]

  I strongly urge my colleagues to not forget and to support 
overwhelmingly this bill.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, at this time, it is my pleasure to yield 
2 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Lance).

  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Justice 
Against Foreign Terrorists Act sponsored by Mr. King of New York. As we 
approach the 15th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of 
September 11, 2001, it is appropriate that we, in Congress, are finally 
authorizing that victims from that terrible day have the right to 
pursue full justice in our courts of law.
  I am a lawyer and I have worked with constitutional and statutory 
issues. This legislation does not convict any one person or any one 
nation, but it gives the loved ones of those who died recourse for full 
justice and compensation.
  New Jersey lost more than 700 residents in the attacks, 81 of them 
from communities I represent here in Congress. I know some of those 
names, and I know all of those communities. They deserve their day in 
court, and they deserve the assistance of the Federal Government in 
being as transparent as possible with the evidence and the 
intelligence. The truth is the truth, and it is time that we all know 
  This measure passed the United States Senate with unanimous support, 
yet there are some who believe that the White House may threaten to 
veto the legislation, citing how it may compromise our relationship 
with certain other nations. This is backward logic.
  Those nations should recognize the fundamental justice and legal 
remedies against a terrorist network that killed more than 3,000 
  Mr. Speaker, I urge a ``yes'' vote. I am sure this will pass 
overwhelmingly, perhaps unanimously, in a bipartisan fashion.

                              {time}  1130

  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Doggett).
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, look around the world. In Europe, in Asia, 
in the Middle East, and in Africa, wherever you see evidence of radical 
Islam, that extremism can usually be traced to preachers of hate from 
Saudi Arabia.
  The Kingdom has blood on its hands. Is it the blood of the victims of 
9/11? Possibly. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudis. Some 
Saudis were permitted to flee this country without thorough interviews. 
``Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of funding 
for al Qaeda.'' [The 
9/11 Commission Report, p. 171]
  Intelligence Committee Chair Senator Bob Graham saw ``a direct line 
between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 
11 attacks and the Government of Saudi Arabia.'' [Saudi Arabia May Be 
Tied to 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say; New York Times; Feb. 29. 2012] But 
evaluating all of this evidence, the evidence of both sides, is why we 
have a judicial system in the first place. And for our government to 
obstruct the 9/11 victims--their families--from seeking the truth about 
Saudi Arabia and its involvement is just flat wrong.
  Some in our government have tried to hide as much as they could for 
as long as they could about the Saudis. Ignoring Saudi treachery, we 
had a President who literally held hands with the Crown Prince while 
attacking another country in the biggest foreign policy disaster in our 
Nation's history that continues to plague us.
  The Muslims that I know, who are my neighbors in Texas, and those 
with whom I meet here in Washington, do not deserve blanket blame for 
themselves or for Islam, but neither should there be blanket immunity 
for those who may have committed wrong.
  I salute the bipartisan sponsors of this legislation. Give these 9/11 
families their day in court and accord the Saudis all of the rights in 
a judicial proceeding that they so regularly deny their own citizens.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
New York (Mr. Donovan).
  Mr. DONOVAN. Mr. Speaker, to begin, I would like to acknowledge and 
thank Speaker Ryan, Chairman Goodlatte, and Chairman Upton. I have been 
a Member of this distinguished institution for only 16 months, and, in 
that time, they have done right by the heroes I represent in Congress. 
I thank them, and the thousands of heroes and their families from my 
district thank them as well.
  My good friend, the gentleman from New York (Mr. King), has been a 
fierce advocate for all 9/11 heroes and their families for the last 15 
years, and it is an honor to stand by his side.
  I would like to read into the Record part of a letter written to me 
last week by Lori Mascali, the widow of firefighter, and my good 
friend, Joseph Mascali from New York City Fire Department's Rescue 5:
  ``It's Sunday morning, and the smell of coffee fills the air as I 
wait to hear the sound of the key in the front door. I know that sound 
of that key will be followed by the words, `I'm home,' and my heart is 
excited. No longer do I hear the sound of the key in the door on a 
Sunday morning. No longer do I hear the simple words, `I'm home.' 
Sovereign immunity should not be allowed as a shield of protection for 
persons or nations that fund terrorists and cause mass murder. JASTA 
must be passed to send a strong message to all nations: if you fund 
terrorism, there will be accountability.''
  Mr. Speaker, this bill is about giving victims of terror attacks on 
United States soil their day in court and the chance to hold everybody 
accountable--including foreign governments that may have been involved.
  9/11 devastated families in my district--and for me, their priorities 
are my priorities. I support this bill, and ask my colleagues to join 
me in voting for passage.
  As my good friend from New Jersey (Mr. Lance) said, the President has 
threatened to veto this bill, but, for those Americans who have earned 
the right for justice, I hope he has the conviction and courage to sign 
JASTA into law.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Israel).
  Mr. ISRAEL. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, the distinguished ranking 
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Justice Against Sponsors of 
Terrorism Act. Mr. Speaker, 15 years ago, my Congressional District 
lost 200 men and women--families named Downey, families named Murphy, 
families named Uggiano, and so many other families. In the years since, 
those who responded to that act of terror have been getting sicker and 
sicker and sicker.
  They all deserve justice, Mr. Speaker. You get justice on the 
battlefield. You can get justice in the courtroom. This bill ensures 
that they have the right to justice in the courtroom. For that simple 
and very profound reason, I support this bill. I was pleased to 
cosponsor the bill with my friend from New York (Mr. King).
  Mr. Speaker, I urge the President not to veto this bill. I thank my 
friend from Michigan.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
New Jersey (Mr. Smith).
  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman 
Goodlatte for his extraordinary work on this legislation, Mr. Conyers, 
and, of course, Peter King who has been absolutely tenacious picking up 
the good work that Dan Lungren, a former member of Congress and 
Attorney General of California, had done on this legislation 
  This is a bipartisan piece of legislation, and it has to be signed by 
the President. I certainly hope--echoing comments of the previous 
speaker--that the President will, indeed, sign it into law.
  This bill holds the promise of some measure of justice for the 
victims of al Qaeda's horrific terrorist attack on the United States 15 
years ago this Sunday.
  Time has not diminished the suffering of those who have lost loved 
ones on that day, nor has it brought accountability and, certainly, has 
not brought closure.
  This bill aims to change that to some degree by overturning the legal 
challenges that have stood between the victims and the justice they 
rightly seek from foreign governments and individuals suspected of 
financing the 9/11 attacks.
  I have worked extensively with the 
9/11 survivors and the family members. I have worked with the Jersey 
Girls, as they became known, who pushed so

[[Page H5244]]

hard for the 9/11 Commission that was chaired by my former Governor Tom 
Kean, who did yeoman's work to get to the bottom of what happened and 
what we might do to mitigate such a crisis going forward. 
Unfortunately, there still are gaps, and this is one of those gaping 
holes that need to be closed.
  Here today are some of those family members, many of them widows: 
Kathy Wisniewski, who works on my staff who lost her son, Alan; Mindy 
Kleinberg; Lorie Van Auken; Monica Gabrielle; and Carol Ashley are here 
in the Chamber and have pushed so hard for this legislation.
  Not here but here in spirit: Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, and 
Sheila Martello.
  Mary and Frank Fetchet also are with us. They lost their son Brad.
  These are people who have said ``never again'' needs to mean never 
again so no other Americans would suffer what they have endured at the 
loss of their loved ones. This is why this legislation is another major 
step forward.
  Look at the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the impediments that 
it has placed. As some of my colleagues have said earlier, we just want 
in court to be able to get at the truth: who was part of the 
facilitating and the financing of the 9/11 murderers--the terrorists--
that killed some 3,000 people, 50 of whom--more than 50 who lived in my 
own congressional district.
  This bill also would amend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987. The bill 
will open foreign officials to accountability to so-called secondary 
liability, such as aiding and abetting or conspiring with terrorist 
perpetrators. These are very commonsense and modest changes to the law 
that will hopefully get us closer to justice for those who have 
suffered so much. It is a great bill.
  Again, I thank Chairman Goodlatte. Pete King has been absolutely 
tenacious, and our leadership has heeded those calls and is supportive. 
I want to thank them for ensuring it came up today prior to the 15th 
anniversary of that infamous event.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the bipartisanship of this bill and the 
emotional but clear discussion that has gone on in support of it. 
Because of the importance of enacting legislation of this importance 
and the recognition of the concerns raised, I know that we can continue 
to work with the administration to resolve these issues so that this 
measure can be signed into law by the President of the United States.
  I thank everyone who has participated.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, I want to say, first of all, thank you very much to the 
ranking member of the committee, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. 
Conyers) for working with us on this legislation. I want to 
congratulate the chief sponsors of the legislation, particularly 
Congressman King of New York who has, as many have said here, been 
tenacious at pursuing justice.
  I urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I wish to join with my colleagues in support 
of today's vote on S. 2040, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism 
Act (JASTA).
  Next week, our nation will mark the 15th anniversary of the September 
11th attacks. The United States suffered an immeasurable tragedy that 
day, but for the victims and their families, their loss was even more 
profound. Their lives were irrevocably changed that day, and their road 
to healing has been made all the more difficult by the questions that 
remain unanswered and by the justice that has yet to be served.
  S. 2040, along with its House companion bill H.R. 3815, of which I am 
a proud cosponsor, would go a long way in providing answers to the 
victims and their families. In pursuing civil claims against 
terrorists, as well as those who aided and abetted them, we will be 
able to ensure greater transparency. The process of trying civil suits 
in a court of law would bring to light new evidence about how those 
events came about including identifying the money flows to the 
hijackers, as well as any connections the perpetrators had to foreign 
government officials. Ultimately, it will help to provide a more 
complete story of the September 11th attacks, not only of what happened 
that day, but also of what happened in the days leading up to them.
  I have worked over the last number of years with my colleagues 
Congressman Walter Jones and Congressman Thomas Massie in calling for 
the declassification of the 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Inquiry 
into Intelligence Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of 
September 2001. In doing so, I have also had the honor and privilege of 
getting to know some of the families who lost loved ones during the 
attacks. These families need and deserve answers and justice. Their 
representatives in Congress should be working tirelessly to give them 
  The release of the 28 pages earlier this summer was an important 
first step in getting answers for the families. Passing JASTA today, 
and getting it enacted, would be an equally important next step towards 
getting justice for the victims, survivors and their families.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, S. 2040.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.