Access Living Statement on HR 620

Advocates Vow to Continue Bill Opposition

Thursday, by a vote of 225 to 192, the U.S. House voted to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the passage of HR 620. This legislation chokes the right of people with disabilities to access businesses and gives inaccessible businesses more leeway to break the law. Advocates await word on whether the bill will be considered in the U.S. Senate.

Access Living and our staff, volunteers, board members, and supporters remain adamantly opposed to this deplorable legislation and what it means for the millions of Americans who are disabled. If passed, this legislation will
take the teeth from the ADA and provide permission for non-ADA compliant businesses to continue to break the law. Also, the legislation will do nothing to stop frivolous “drive-by” lawsuits based on the ADA. Further, this legislation largely places the responsibility of ensuring businesses are accessible on the disabled rather than on businesses themselves. Plus, no other civil right in our country requires that the wrong-doer be given advance notice of a violation and an opportunity to cure the violation before a person’s right to be free from discrimination must be respected.
 
We would like to THANK the following members of Congress for supporting disability rights and voting against the bill: Democrats Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jan Schakowsky, Bobby L. Rush, Robin Kelly, Brad Schneider, Daniel Lipinski, Mike Quigley, Danny K. Davis, Cheri Bustos, and Republican Peter Roskam.
 
The following Illinois Congressmen voted “yes” on the bill, and therefore AGAINST disability rights: Democrat Bill Foster and Republicans John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood, Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, and Randy Hultgren. This bill was a litmus test of political integrity on disability rights.

The House vote was preceded by an intense battle between disability advocates, business lobbyists, and Congressional staff, including the arrest of about a dozen ADAPT members in the House gallery during the vote. In an unusual and impassioned move, Sen. Tammy Duckworth took to the House floor to urge a “no” vote by her House colleagues. We thank Sen. Duckworth ADAPT, and our many disability rights colleagues across the nation for their advocacy.

Access Living recognizes the innate rights, abilities, needs and diversity of people with disabilities, works toward their full integration into community life and serves as an agent of social change. When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 28 years ago, the US Justice Department offered and has continued to offer significant assistance to help business with ADA compliance. Allowing businesses to be willfully noncompliant is a violation of civil rights.

The bill is expected to move to the Senate in the near future, where many have already signaled they are opposed. We will continue to fight this legislation, and call upon all who struggle for social justice to join us in this fight.