No other piece of legislation on Capitol Hill has earned as much bipartisan and bicameral support as the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act H.R. 647/S. 313). Now, the House is on the cusp of moving this landmark legislation across the finish line. And millions of Americans with disabilities are closer than ever to having a new financial planning tool with which to build a brighter future.
I couldn’t be prouder or more thankful for the support ABLE has received from my House and Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle along with more than 100 disability advocacy groups. We’ve come a long way since 2006, when I first introduced seed legislation behind the current bill to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. Without this joint effort we wouldn’t have reached this stage.
What’s the back story on how we got here? It may not be fancy, but here’s the formula that made the difference: determination, focus, and sheer willpower to provide a brighter future for millions of Americans who live with disabilities.
In my home district in Northeast Florida, I’ve heard stories of exasperation and frustration from families with children who have Down syndrome and other disabilities. Like Debbie Revels, head of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville whose son Nick has Down syndrome. And Jeff Leach, also of Jacksonville, whose young daughter Sydney also has Down syndrome. With outdated laws on the books, how could they possibly plan for their child’s future and make sure they had every possibility opportunity to live a full and rich life?
Currently, they cannot have more than $2,000 worth of assets before critical government support programs they need are cut off. In the face of enormous medical, transportation, and education costs, that amount does not extend very far and certainly hinders independent living.
Other Americans have IRS-sanctioned financial planning tools, like 529 investment plans, available to them to plan for the future. There’s absolutely no reason that individuals with disabilities, like Nick Revels or Sydney Leach and so many others, should not be afforded that same opportunity.
ABLE gives them that, and I look forward to its passage in the House and am hopeful for the same quick result in the Senate. I think we all agree ABLE is the right thing to do, and now is the time to do it.
— Congressman Ander Crenshaw
Congressman Crenshaw spoke earlier on the ABLE Act from the House Floor: