July 26 (UPI) — A group of Senate Democrats marked the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by speaking out against Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act on the steps of the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, held the news conference hours before the full Senate would vote 55-45 against a measure to fully repeal the ACA — also known as Obamacare — and delay its replacement.
Duckworth, who lost both legs while serving in the military, compared the fight for the ADA in 1990 to the one she and other Democrats are facing to protect the ACA. She said potentially losing Obamacare affects everyone, not just people with pre-existing conditions.
“It affects people who are young and invincible and without pre-existing conditions,” Duckworth said. “I was that invincible person, I was in the military, I was fit, I was able to do everything and one split second later, I had no legs and I was fighting for my life in a hospital.”
She said that had it not been for the ADA, she wouldn’t have been able to run for public office. Earlier in her remarks, she noted how just prior to the ADA’s passing, disability advocates got out of their wheelchairs and crawled up the Capitol steps to stress why accessibility was needed at public buildings.
The law prohibits discrimination against the disabled in employment, public accommodations, in telecommunications and on public or private buses or trains.
“By approving the [bill], the Congress affirms its commitment to remove the physical barriers and the antiquated social attitudes that have condemned people with disabilities to second class citizenship for too long,’ said then-Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. “Today we are shedding… condescending and suffocating attitudes and widening the door of opportunity for people with disabilities.”
Casey on Wednesday said the celebration of the ADA anniversary was “tempered” by the Senate’s debate over the ACA’s fate.
“The changes the ADA brought to the country were substantial and that’s an understatement,” he said. “The repeal of the ACA and all that comes with that repeal undermines all of that progress of those 27 years.
“On this day of celebration, let it be a mobilization against what they’re trying to do.”