Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, plans to introduce a bill he says will "restore the intent" of the bill he first pushed through Congress designed to end discrimination against people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act became law 17 years ago.
Harkin says in recent years court rulings have ignored the intent of Congress over who should be protected by the bill and narrowed the definition of who qualifies as an individual with a disability. "As a consequence, millions of people we intended to be protected by the A-D-A, including people with epilepsy diabetes and cancer, are not protected anymore," Harkin says. Harkin says the law has been weakened too much.
Harkin says when laws are written, they don’t put in every little detail, that is done in the "report language." But he says the courts have ignored the report language, and Harkin says that’s why there is bipartisan support to fix the bill.
Harkin was asked if there is a middle ground between the court rulings and the coverage of the law. "Middle ground, yes there is a middle ground of course," Harkin says, "and the middle ground is to restore the original intent of Congress. And that is what we’re trying to do."
Harkin says the new bill will have to go through several committees in the House and Senate, so it will take some time before a final version comes forward.