For Immediate Release:
September 17, 2008
Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130
(202) 225 - 3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) today joined with leading Members of Congress, the disability and business communities to celebrate the House passage by voice vote of the ADA Amendments Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Today, we are celebrating the end of an 18-year journey. In 1990, thanks to the hard work and vision of so many, Congress passed and the first President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law in keeping with our deepest ideals of inclusion and equality.
“On the day he signed the bill, President Bush said: 'Today’s legislation brings us closer to that day when no Americans will ever again be deprived of their basic guarantee of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'
“And yes, we are closer to that day.
“The ADA made clear that a disability need not be disabling, and allowed millions of Americans with disabilities to take advantage of all the opportunity this country has to offer. It was a tremendous stride toward equality. But it was not enough.
“In a series of narrow—and in my view, mistaken—rulings, the courts have chipped away at our original intent, bit by bit.
“Today, we join together to reassert that intent and reclaim the ADA’s promise. After passing the House and the Senate overwhelmingly, the ADA amendments act heads to the President’s desk, where I trust he will sign it.
“By passing this bill, we have ensured that the definition of “disability” will be construed fairly and broadly. And we have brought millions of our fellow-citizens, who were previously shut out, back where they belong, and back where we need them: under the ADA’s protection.
“Together, we have made up a coalition as broad and deep as the one that passed the ADA 18 years ago. We are members of the disability community, struggling for fair and equal treatment; business groups, eager for new pools of talent; and leaders of both parties.
“Together, with the passage of this bill, we have brought one step closer the American promise of full inclusion, for all.”