In another blow in Congress and the President’s war on people with disabilities, the House this afternoon passed HR 620. ADAPT has been at the nation’s capitol protesting this abomination for many days now and was there protesting in the house chambers for this vote, but were removed and 17 ADAPT activists were arrested.
HR 620 limits enforcement of the public accommodations section of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ADA, by putting severe restrictions on the ability of people with disabilities to enforce their civil rights through the courts. It says that before someone can sue a business for failure to comply with this law (that has been on the books for 28 years) they must::
- inform the business, in writing, of the failure to comply,
- site the specific section of the ADA when and where the person confronted the barrier,
- state if it was a temporary or permanent barrier,
- and say if they informed the business at the time.
Then they have to wait four months (120 days) to see if the business will even begin to fix the problem.
Once all this has happened, months have gone by, etc. they can use the method of enforcement provided for and take the business to court. As if it is a new idea, this bill also provides for mediation, something that was already included in the original rules for the ADA back in the 1990s.
Why was this bill supposedly written? To prevent drive-by lawsuits by unscrupulous attorneys, something about which this bill never speaks. HR 620 says not one word and does absolutely nothing to address the problem. Instead, it puts the total onus on person with disabilities who rights were violated, civil rights that have been in place for over a quarter of a century. No penalty or even real inconvenience for those who created the problem these Congress people are supposedly so concerned to fix.
Last year Congress sought to take away health care from people of lower income and people with disabilities (a.k.a. pre-existing conditions) by attacking the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare. They wlll try again this year, as the President’s budget so clearly shows, with cuts to all of these critical programs proposed. Additionally, low-income housing is targeted as they seek to zero out funding for the HOME program, the Housing Trust Fund and CDBG, and make deep cuts in Public Housing funding and much more. Additional hoops through which recipients must jump for food stamps and other critical supports add fuel to this fire.
The war on people with disabilities is in full swing. Which side are you on?
If you think voting doesn’t matter, think again. Vote your disability interests!
FYI on HR 620: All Texas Republicans plus Democrat Henry Cuellar voted for this bill. All Texas Democrats (except Cuellar) voted against it.