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Beto Campaign Pledges to Protect Civil Rights of People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., June 12 – The inclusion of people with disabilities in society is personal to Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, whose youngest sister has an intellectual and developmental disability. While disability has been a part of his life since childhood, he is newly committing to it in this presidential campaign. A campaign spokesperson recently provided an extensive response to a question posed to all of the viable 2020 presidential candidates by RespectAbility, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities.

“In order to ensure the one in five Americans with disabilities can continue to live with dignity, Beto believes we must fight any attempt to weaken the ADA, including efforts to limit equal access to public places and businesses,” a Beto O’Rourke aide/spokesperson responded about ensuring people with disabilities are fully included in their campaign. “Beto also supports more vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and initiatives that provide fair, affordable, accessible and integrated housing. Defending Social Security, Medicaid, and other long-term supports and services from cuts and caps will also be critical to this effort.”

The response also detailed the importance of fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and “to defend the existing protections in the Affordable Care Act,” as well as ensuring a livable wage for people with disabilities.

“This campaign is about making sure that everyone is a priority, no one is written off, and everyone’s civil rights are protected,” the Beto O’Rourke aide/spokesperson added. “That is why we are committed to listening and learning from advocates about more ways to make this campaign and our events accessible to everyone. We are also very excited about building a campaign team that includes hiring people with diverse experiences, including people with disabilities, in senior roles.”

Eight other Democratic presidential campaigns participated a nonpartisan briefing with RespectAbility on this topic: Biden, Booker, Gillibrand, Inslee, Klobuchar, Sanders, Warren and Yang. All viable campaigns were invited to participate in a general briefing or to schedule a briefing, and all, including the Beto O’Rourke campaign, are welcome to request a future briefing.

Each campaign has been asked to respond to the same question. We are presenting responses in full below, which is attributable to a Beto O’Rourke aide/spokesperson:


Q: How will you be ensuring that your campaign fully includes people with disabilities and intentionally speaks to people with disabilities?

A: When the United States adopted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we became the first country in the world to pass comprehensive civil rights legislation for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. But over the last couple of years, we have seen lawmakers roll back these critical civil rights protections and slash federal funding for schools. Far too often, these budget cuts and additional burdens fall harder on communities and students of color.

In order to ensure the one in five Americans with disabilities can continue to live with dignity, Beto believes we must fight any attempt to weaken the ADA, including efforts to limit equal access to public places and businesses. Beto also supports more vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and initiatives that provide fair, affordable, accessible and integrated housing.  Defending Social Security, Medicaid, and other long-term supports and services from cuts and caps will also be critical to this effort.

As President, Beto would make it a priority to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) so that special education instructors across the country can meet the needs of their students. By supporting high-quality education and improving access to job opportunities, we can also tackle the high unemployment rate for everyone with disabilities.

We must also ensure that those caring for individuals with disabilities are paid a livable wage.  This starts with raising the minimum wage to $15.

Beto also believes it’s important to defend the existing protections in the Affordable Care Act, including those that ensure individuals with disabilities can access high-quality healthcare such as guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, the prohibition on cost discrimination, and the elimination of annual and lifetime limits. As we move forward with a plan for universal coverage, Beto supports a plan like Medicare for America, which covers long-term care, including nursing homes as well as home and community-based services. By providing an option to every business and individual to buy into this system at an affordable cost, we ensure people can get the coverage they need.  Beto would continue to work to ensure that veterans with disabilities receive high quality medical and support services.

This campaign is about making sure that everyone is a priority, no one is written off, and everyone’s civil rights are protected. That is why we are committed to listening and learning from advocates about more ways to make this campaign and our events accessible to everyone. We are also very excited about building a campaign team that includes hiring people with diverse experiences, including people with disabilities, in senior roles.


RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates here: http://therespectabilityreport.org/category/2020-campaign. To learn more about the organization, visit our website at www.respectability.org.

Published in2020 CampaignDemocrats

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