Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) called on Congress to ratify the international disability treaty, during a Capitol Hill event celebrating 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“It’s a shame the only countries who haven’t ratified that treaty are the Congo, Guyana and the United States of America and we are the leader in disability issues and dealing with the problem,” he said of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
“Hopefully this year we’ll be able to pass that treaty so our U.N. (United Nations) representative Samantha Power will have the opportunity to tell these other countries how much we’ve accomplished in America and hopefully they will do the same.”
Dole said the ADA, which is a model for CRPD, passed because Democrats and Republicans worked together. They knew, he said, it was the right thing to do.
The legislation, which passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (M.D.) said the law has resulted in curb cuts in sidewalks, elevators in new two-story buildings, wider doors for wheelchairs and brail in elevators, to name a few examples.
But the biggest thing to come from the law, former Rep. Steve Bartlett (R-Texas) said was reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities in employment.
“It has to be reasonable and an accommodation,” he said. “And that definition has held throughout the entire 25 years and is both the success of the ADA and the non-litigious nature of it because people are forced to reach an understanding of it.”
But unlike 25 years ago, Hoyer said it’s harder today to pass legislation in a bi-partisan way.
“We are a much more polarized country, a more polarized Congress than we were then,” he said.
Though Hoyer said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is not the problem, he said he has people who are not cooperating with their own leadership.
“If you take a poll of Americans they will say they want us to work in a bipartisan fashion,” he said. “If you also ask them the question, ‘Should anyone give up their principles?’ ‘Absolutely not.’ So on one hand you have a public that wants you to stick by your guns and on the other hand they want to see the Congress working in a bipartisan fashion. Bob Dole said it, ‘Compromise in the middle is not selling out.’”