Yesterday the American people saw a preview of what to expect from the next Congress – America’s New Congress. The House passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act by an overwhelming margin of 404-17.
The bill, which listed 85 percent of House Members as co-sponsors, would establish tax-exempt savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. This may be perceived as a small change, but the ABLE Act has the potential to improve the lives of millions of Americans.
Read what they’re saying about the bill’s historic passage in the House:
Associated Press | House OKs Bill to Widen Federal Help for Disabled
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the House Republican Conference chairwoman, was joined on the House floor by her 7-year-old son, Cole, who has Down syndrome. She said Cole has made her committed to supporting government policies that help people with disabilities achieve “the freedom to live independently.”
Wednesday’s 404-17 House vote in favor of the bill was the culmination of a years-long campaign, spearheaded by hundreds of families with disabled children and a diverse collection of advocacy groups, from Autism Speaks to the National Federation of the Blind. In a highly dysfunctional Congress, the ABLE Act stands out for its broad, bipartisan support — 454 House and Senate lawmakers have co-sponsored the bill, about 85% of Congress.
The bill would amend the tax code to allow people with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts to pay for expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for government aid. As many as 54 million Americans with disabilities stand to be affected by the bill, including many Latinos. According to U.S. Census data, about 18 percent of Latinos in the United States live with a disability.
Sessions poured on the praise for members who had made the bill possible, from Crenshaw and Speaker John A. Boehner to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. And just as he named GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Washington Republican walked by, effusive in her own praise for Sessions, who is the co-chairman of the Down Syndrome Caucus in Congress.
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), the measure’s sponsor, said establishing savings accounts for people with disabilities would help them grow their money in a similar way as retirement accounts, like an IRA or 401(k).
“It will bring peace of mind to millions of American families who live with disabilities every day,” Crenshaw said.
Sunshine State News | Ander Crenshaw’s ABLE Act Wins Big in the House
Trumpeting his bill as the biggest piece of legislation for disabled Americans since the Americans With Disabilites Act (ADA) of 1990, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw’s, R-Fla., “Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act” passed the U.S. House Wednesday on an overwhelming vote.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette | House OKs ABLE Act, offers tax-free savings
People with disabilities soon could have an easier time saving for long-term care needs thanks to House approval of a bill providing for tax-free savings accounts. The legislation also ensures that those savings are not counted against people with disabilities in eligibility determinations for Medicaid or Social Security Disability Insurance.
Florida Times-Union | Landmark Crenshaw bill passes House, would allow tax-free savings accounts for disabled
The potential impact on people with disabilities and their families is “huge,” said Karen McConeghy Prewitt, whose 7-year-old son, Caleb, has Down syndrome. She is family outreach coordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville.
With an ABLE account, individuals can save for a variety of essential expenses, including medical and dental care, education, community-based support services, employment training, assistive technology, housing and transportation. These types of savings, and the long-term security they bring, would help empower people to live independently, work, and go to college.