In our last update about the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313), we reported that Senator Mitch McConnell joined the growing list of cosponsors on March 14, 2014.
Since then, one new senator and 19 House members have joined the fight. Two of them, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st District) posted responses to Sara Wolff, a 31 year old woman with Downs syndrome, who started the process of actively lobbying Congress to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313/H.R. 647), a bill that will help individuals with disabilities to save for their futures.
Complete List: House of Representative Sponsors of H.R.647: ABLE Act of 2013
Complete List: Senate Sponsors of S.313: ABLE Act of 2013
If your senator or congressman is not on the lists of co-sponsors, we urge you to contact them in support of the bill. Download this Letter to Congress template you can use to contact them. (PDF opens in new window)
Congressional Responses to Sara Wolff’s Petition
In her response to Sara’s petition, which was posted on Change.org on May 14, Senator Gillibrand stated:
[blockquote cite=”Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)”]
The ABLE Act is bipartisan legislation that would amend the tax code to allow disabled Americans to open tax free savings accounts to cover qualified expenses. I’m proud to co-sponsor the ABLE Act because only by helping Americans with disabilities plan for their futures will they, as Sara put it so beautifully, be able to “achieve their full potential in life.” Which is an opportunity every American deserves.
I urge the Senate to take up the ABLE Act this year so we can put millions of Americans with disabilities, like Sara, on a more secure path to their future.“
On May 5, Congressman Ryan posted this response to Sara:
[blockquote cite=”Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st District)”]
Many of my constituents have told me why they support the ABLE Act. Like them, I believe people with disabilities should be able to create a stable future for themselves. So I welcome this discussion, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the 113th Congress on ways to help Americans with disabilities.
Please know that I appreciate your views, and I will continue to follow this legislation closely. Should I have the chance to vote on the ABLE Act, I will certainly keep your thoughtful considerations in mind.”
With so much support, why hasn’t the ABLE Act been voted on yet?
This brings the total number of co-sponsors to 71 Senators and 363 Congressmen, almost 77% of all members of Congress.
So the question is: Why hasn’t the bill been put to the vote yet?
When was the last time 77% of Congress members have agreed on anything? With almost 250,000 signatures on the Change.org petition, and support from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA,) the National Down Syndrome Society, the National Disability Institute, and many other advocacy groups, one would think that passage would be a shoe-in.
According to Senator Robert Casey (D-PA), one of the two original sponsors of the bill, “The fact that only 6 bills in all of Congress have this many cosponsors is a sign of the overwhelming support for this effort to make a major difference in the lives of these families.”
So, what’s the hold-up?? It’s time for the members of Congress to get off their political butts and do something! This important bill will help dramatically improve the lives of thousands of disabled Americans.
To quote the famous American philosopher, Larry The Cable Guy, let’s “Git ‘er done!”