WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at a press conference following the Senate’s passage of the ADA Amendments Act today. The Senate-passed bill is virtually identical to one passed by the House on June 25th. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I am pleased that the Senate has followed the House and passed the ADA Amendments Act. This bill will once again make America a world leader on a central test of human rights. I expect the House to pass this bill next week, and that the President will sign it.
“Eighteen years ago, when the first President Bush signed the original ADA, he declared: ‘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 those doors have come open. Tens of millions of Americans with disabilities now enjoy rights the rest of us have long taken for granted.
“But the doors of opportunity aren’t yet fully open. Every year, millions of us are caught on the wrong side.
“That’s because, in interpreting the ADA over the last 18 years, the courts consistently chipped away at its clear intent. And I know what that intent was—because I was there when we drafted it.
“We said we wanted broad coverage for people with disabilities and people regarded as disabled. But the courts have narrowed that coverage to exclude entire classes of people.
“We never expected that people with disabilities who worked to mitigate their conditions would have their efforts held against them. But the courts did exactly that.
“All told, these narrow rulings have excluded millions of Americans from the law’s protections, for no good reason.
“This bill owes its success to a broad coalition of business groups and disability advocates that have come together to restore the ADA's inclusive promise and ensure that the definition of disability shall be construed broadly and fairly.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act was a pledge: the promise of an America that excludes none of its people from our shared life.
“Now, it’s time to keep that promise.”
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was the lead House Democratic sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the lead House Democratic sponsor of the ADA Amendments Act.