Statement on Americans with Disabilities Act

Transcript: 

... mr. conyers: madam speaker, i'm pleased to recognize the distinguished majority leader who is a sponsor -- is an original sponsor of the bill some 18 years ago, one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized for one minute. mr. hoyer: i thank the distinguished chairman of the judiciary committee for yielding and i thank him for his efforts. i want to thank his stf sta -- staff as well who have been extraordinary. heather in particular has had her virtues regaled by my staff and i thank her. i want to thank jim sensenbrenner and cheryl as well who has been an extraordinary help on the americans with disabilities act and with this restoration act. she has been a giant in her leadership. i want to thank jim sensenbrenner with whom i've worked now for many years on this issue and he has been, of course, a giant as chairman of the judiciary committee in years past and one of the senior members of this house, extraordinarily helpful and a partner in this effort. i also want to thank buck mckeon, the ranking member. at the time we testified, he said, you know, we want to see this passed but we want to work together and make sure we can all be for it and i said i would -- aeye sured him that we would do that and i am pleased today he said we had done that. and i think the result we will see in the vote will show that clearly. i thank him for his work and effort and good faith in working toward a bill that we could all support. and lastly i want -- not lastly, i may thank other people, but george miller, my friend, the chairman of the education and labor committee, whose committee had primary jurisdiction over this bill, for his efforts in assuring that this bill moves forward. madam speaker, i would like to submit for the record a list of people, particularly in the disabilities community and also in the business community, who spent countless hours, days, weeks and, yes, even months trying to come to an agreement on a bill that both the business community and the disabilities community would feel comfortable with. we have accomplished that but it was the work of these people as well who did that. and i would submit this at this time in the record to thank them for their efforts and their success with they are so responsible for today. the speaker pro tempore: do you yield back the balance of your time? without objection. mr. hoyer: madam speaker, 18 years ago next month the first president bush signed into law one of the most consequential pieces of civil rights legislation in recent memory. in over a quarter of a century, in fact. on the ser moeun on the south land of the house, president bush said this, with today's signing of the landmark americans with disabilities act, every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom. and in large measure, president bush was right. those doors have in fact come open. tens of millions of americans with disabilities now enjoy rights the rest of us have long taken for granted. the right to use the same streets, theaters, rest rooms or offices. the right to prove themselves in the workplace, to succeed on their talent and drive alone. we all understand why there are cuts in the sidewalk of every street corner, kneeling buses on our city streets, elevaters on the metro, ramps at movie theaters and accessible restrooms and handicap parking almost everywhere. by now they've become part of our lives' fabric and we wouldn't have it, i think, any other way. because each one of us or each one of those is the sign of a pledge, the promise of an america that excludes none of its people from our shared life and opportunities. that was the promise of the a.d.a. that was the promise of the a.d.a. that president george bush signed on july 26, 1990. but looking back 18 years, the hard truth is that we were in some ways perhaps too optimistic. the door president bush spoke of is still not entirely open. and every year millions of us are caught on the wrong side. in interpreting the law over these 18 years, the courts have consistently chipped away at congress' very clear intent. and i know what the intent was because i was there as so many of you were. i know that many of my ...