Duckworth: Republican coronavirus package would “gut” Americans With Disabilities Act

TheHill reports Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), the first disabled woman elected to the Senate, slammed Senate Republicans’ coronavirus relief proposal in a floor speech Wednesday evening, saying it would “gut” the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Duckworth invoked the “Capitol Crawl” by wheelchair users lobbying for the 1990 legislation, including eight-year-old Jennifer Keelan, who was heard to say “I’ll take all night if I have to.”

“Thirty years ago this legislative body said people like me mattered, but last week the Republicans in this chamber proposed a bill that said that we don’t,” Duckworth said.

The Illinois senator called on her GOP colleagues to “join Democrats in supporting two measures that would show the disability community that their party actually gives a darn about them.”

First, Duckworth called on Republicans to increase Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages (FMAP) by 10 percent for Medicaid home- and community-based services. The alternative, she said, would force disabled people into high-risk congregate care facilities.

“We know from existing data that Americans with intellectual and development disabilities are killed at far higher rates than any other Americans when infected with COVID9, so investing in state efforts to provide Medicaid services to vulnerable populations in the safety of their own homes is just a common sense policy that would save countless lives,” she said.

Second, she called on Republicans to reject any proposals that allow businesses to implement non-ADA-compliant reopening plans.

“Disability rights are human rights, and these civil rights must never become optional benefits that can be taken away whenever it’s convenient or cheaper for employers and those who are in power,” she said.