Wed May 25, 2016 08:59AM
A file photo of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
A file photo of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

New York Senator Charles Schumer slipped an amendment into the final draft of a Senate bill, making it more difficult for 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia over a possible role in the attacks.

The US Senate passed legislation that would allow the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks to take legal action against Saudi Arabia and other foreign sponsors of terror.

The unanimous passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was heralded as a major victory by many members of Congress as well as families of the 9/11 victims, but was met with fierce opposition from the White House.

Just before the vote, Sen. Schumer and other supporters of the bill added an amendment to the final draft, giving the State and Justice departments the power to stop any litigation against the Saudis, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

Under the new section, the attorney general and secretary of state can stay court action indefinitely.

The amendment, called “Stay of Actions Pending State Negotiations,” gives the secretary of state the power to “certify” that the United States is “engaged in good-faith discussions with the foreign-state defendant concerning the resolution of claims against the foreign state.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (right) and Sen. John Cornyn exit a news conference concerning the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), on Capitol Hill, May 17, 2016. (AFP photo)

The attorney general can also petition the court for an extension of the stay for “additional 180-day periods,” effectively delaying lawsuits against Saudi Arabia indefinitely.

The behind-the-scenes inclusion of the section explains why the controversial legislation passed without a single objection in the Senate.

President Barack Obama said he would veto the bill over security concerns, but Schumer shrugged off the threat, saying a veto would easily be overridden.

Riyadh fears a possible release of 28 pages of a 2002 congressional report on 9/11, which could implicate the kingdom in the attacks.

Former US Sen. Robert Graham, co-chairman of the joint congressional commission that wrote the full 838-page report, has said the classified material could reveal a possible Saudi support network for the 9/11 hijackers.

Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers, who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, were Saudi citizens.