Thirty years ago, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He did this with the goal of ending “the unjustified segregation and exclusion of persons with disabilities from the mainstream of American life.” This noble goal used to be something which united Americans of all political persuasions, Republicans and Democrats alike.
It is disappointing, but it is also unsurprising that Rob Wittman does not live up to his own party’s legacy. A couple of years ago he cast his vote for H.R. 620, which was misleadingly called the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.” This legislation would have eroded what the ACLU called “a key tenet of that landmark civil rights law.”
For moral and practical reasons, I don’t even begin to understand why he did that.
Today’s Republican Party, exemplified by President Trump’s infamous mocking of a disabled reporter, has written off people with disabilities. Approximately one in five Americans has some degree of disability. That’s a lot of Americans to write off.
America is supposed to be the land of opportunity and justice for all. But when Rob Wittman voted to attack part of the ADA, he was intensely hostile to opportunity and justice.
I’m a proud Democrat. My party has a compassionate and just approach to those with disabilities. Our party works towards a long list of goals, which include but are not limited to fulfilling the promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), eliminating the subminimum wage, improving the processing of veteran disability claims, ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and launching initiatives to ensure that folks with disabilities can live freely with dignity and respect. The Democratic Party also champions partnering with businesses to make sure that those living with a disability can get hired and stay hired. Everything I just outlined should be championed by both parties.
Rob Wittman has lost his way, but I’m sure there are many Republicans in Congress who agree with me on these issues. I look forward to working with them.
This Saturday, I’m proud to say I’ll be doing an event with former Senator Tom Harkin. He was the chief architect of the ADA, and as a human rights attorney it means the world to me that I get to appear alongside him. Because disability rights are human rights.
If you’re interested in getting involved with my campaign, learning more about my positions on other important issues, or attending an event, please visit rashidforva.com for more information.