Families of 9/11 victims, disgruntled over their exclusion from a 2015 fund for victims of state-sponsored terrorism, stand to reap almost $3 billion in aid from money initially appropriated for the COVID-era Paycheck Protection Program, The Intercept reports. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer called the move a "catch-up payment" to fix a mistake that has been the focus of debate for years, even though Congress authorized some $7 billion in 2001 from the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund. The 2015 legislation was designed to compensate other terrorism victims' families who could not force foreign states into court.
Schumer has put the bill on track to pass the Senate by unanimous consent, meaning there would be no debate or vote barring objections by any senator, sources told The Intercept. The legislation follows an August recommendation by a federal magistrate judge seeking to block 9/11 victims’ families engaged in a suit to force the government to use billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s central bank assets frozen by the United States. The Afghan currency and gold reserves are being held in the New York Federal Reserve Bank, as Afghanistan struggles under widespread economic collapse from the devaluation of the central bank, which has resulted in starvation conditions for tens of millions of citizens. In September, Biden signed an executive order to create a Switzerland-based foundation to distribute $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan central bank funds in a highly controlled scheme that attempts to use the funds to benefit Afghanistan without ceding assets to the Taliban.