On Wednesday, December 3rd, the U.S House of Representatives passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647/S. 313) with a vote of 404-17. Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) applauds the overwhelming support for this legislation that will allow individuals with disabilities to save for the future without fear of jeopardizing essential long-term services and supports provided through Medicaid and other programs. The Senate is expected to take up the ABLE Act sometime next week.
After the historic vote, Rep. Ander Crensahw (R-FL) stated, "We are very pleased by the outcome of today's vote and look forward to our colleagues in the Senate passing this bill in the very near future. This has been a bill that we have worked very hard on for eight years and I am very proud that so many people see the importance of this legislation."
The bipartisan support for this bill has been unprecedented in this time of epic Congressional gridlock. Seventy-four Senators signed on as co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the bill's Senate champions Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). In the House, 381 Representatives co-sponsored the legislation and were led by a tireless set of champions, including Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), House Budget Committee Ranking Member, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), House Republican Conference Chairwoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and House Rules Committee Chairman, Pete Sessions (R-TX). In addition, more than 100 other national disability organizations and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have endorsed the bill.
"Today, the House passed legislations that will empower Americans with disabilities to take charge of their futures. The ABLE Act is based on the ideals of equity and fairness and the ability of every child to reach his or her full potential," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). "Passage of the ABLE Act shows what's possible when Democrats and Republicans work together to find common ground to improve people's lives, and I'm proud to be part of the bipartisan effort to get this initiative over the finish line. But most of all, today's action in the House is a testament to the tireless advocacy of families across the country who told their stories and never gave up."
LSA-DN thanks the members of the House for their dedication to the ABLE Act. ABLE accounts will enable individuals with disabilities to live more fully integrated lives in the community. We look forward to celebrating Senate passage of the bill in the very near future!
For more information about the ABLE Act or the work of the LSA-DN Network, please contact Sarah Meek, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at SMeek@lutheranservices.org