ADA: Lawmakers, Politicians Call for Action
Marking the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act yesterday, President Clinton directed federal agencies to hire 100,000 people with disabilities over the next five years, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "[The disabled] don't want excuses ... they want opportunity in terms of jobs and careers," Clinton announced to a crowd of activists and developmentally disabled people at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. He also unveiled a new Web site, Access America, which provides information to disabled people and their families on a number of topics, such as employment, transportation, health care, education and support services. The site is located at www.disability.gov. Meanwhile, New York U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) proposed a new "youth to work initiative" to help disabled youths make the transition from school to work. "Passing the ADA was ... not the end of our commitment to ensure all people have the rights they are entitled to. We have a new generation of Americans who want to work, expect to work, are graduating from high school, going to college," she said (Gearan, 7/27).
Trouble in Paradise
In the House, the melodrama surrounding the reauthorization of the Developmental Disabilities Act -- featuring a powerful committee chair, a rising GOP star and a pair of veteran senators -- ended Wednesday as members passed a "diluted form" of the bill CongressDaily/A.M. reports. The DDA, which funds programs for families with disabled members, sailed through the Senate with bipartisan support last November, but languished in the House. With the ADA anniversary nearing, several members, including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the lead sponsor of the original ADA bill, began pressuring the Commerce and Education and the Workforce committees to move on the legislation. House leaders, aware of the looming deadline, planned to bring the Senate measure directly to the floor for a vote, hoping to "capture the symbolic significance of the [ADA] anniversary." On Monday, Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) introduced legislation that "essentially mirrored" the Senate bill, but Education and Workforce Committee Chair Bill Goodling (R-Pa.) foiled the plan, objecting to Title II provisions that help families keep developmentally disabled members at home. The move sparked concerns from Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (R-Iowa), who consider the Title II provisions an "essential part" of the bill. While the House passed the DDA bill without the Title II provisions, Goodling later recanted, claiming he supported the entire package. "I support congressman Lazio and his efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities. When he introduced the bill Monday night, [the committee] had not had time to review Title II of the bill, which comes under our jurisdiction," he said. A Goodling spokesperson said that the congressman "only wanted to review" the bill and is now "satisfied" with the measure. Lazio plans to reinsert Title II into the House bill before the legislation goes to conference. Jeffords expressed relief that the House approved the bill (Fulton, 7/27).