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Klobuchar Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

headshot of Amy Klobuchar smiling
Amy Klobuchar

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 14 – Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to all of the major presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Klobuchar’s responses follows:

1. What policies and actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?

Senator Klobuchar believes we must do more to combat the stigma of Americans with disabilities and advance their rights and full participation in society. As President, Senator Klobuchar will prioritize strong enforcement of civil rights legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Olmstead decision, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and other laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.  She will support full funding and staffing for the various Offices of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section offices to ensure disability cases are fully investigated.

Senator Klobuchar is also committed to promoting financial stability and security for people with disabilities. As President, she will work to pass the Raise the Wage Act — which she co-sponsors in the Senate — to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 for all workers and guarantee that all workers are paid at least the federal minimum wage by eliminating the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. She is also committed to expanding and improving employment training programs for Americans with disabilities. She helped pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014, which strengthened workforce training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As President, she will oppose attempts to weaken the definition of competitive integrated employment. She will also expand the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, which provides funds and administers grant programs that offer training and employment assistance to people with disabilities.

In addition, Senator Klobuchar will expand tax credits — including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Disability Access Expenditures Tax Credit, and Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit — for employers who hire individuals with disabilities and make workplaces more accessible to those employees, and she will also support inclusion training programs for employers to address discrimination in the workplace. 

In the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has championed policies to ensure that people who want to stay in their homes and communities can do so. She is a co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019 and as President she will push to pass this legislation and address institutional bias in Medicaid to expand access to home and community-based services for people with disabilities. She will also promote remote monitoring technology and telehealth services in Medicare and other programs that improve the quality of life and expand access to quality home care and emergency hospital services in rural areas. Read more about Senator Klobuchar’s plan to protect equal rights and provide opportunity for people with disabilities here.


2. What is your record on improving the lives of people with disabilities? What have you done to enable people with disabilities to have competitive jobs, meaningful careers or become entrepreneurs?

Senator Klobuchar has a strong track record of standing up for people with disabilities. For years, she served on the advisory board of the PACER Center, a Minnesota nonprofit that is dedicated to helping children and young adults with disabilities. In the Senate, she has worked to ensure people with disabilities have access to the same resources and opportunities as everyone else. Senator Klobuchar helped pass the landmark Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which allows people with disabilities to use tax-advantaged savings accounts to cover expenses like education, transportation, and housing without putting other support they count on at risk. She led and passed the Steve Gleason Act, which made permanent fixes to the Medicare rule that limited access to speech generating devices for people living with speech and communication disabilities. And as Ranking Member of the Rules Committee, Senator Klobuchar successfully worked to expand a program at the Library of Congress that is focused on providing books for people who are blind, helping secure more than $50 million dollars for that program and starting a pilot to provide braille e-readers.


3. What specific workforce development strategies do you support that will empower youth with disabilities?

Senator Klobuchar is committed to supporting an inclusive and language rich environment for our students and ensuring successful transitions from school to work. In addition to fully funding the IDEA, Senator Klobuchar will take action to ensure that education facilities accommodate people with disabilities, educators have the training and resources to effectively teach students with learning and other disabilities, and schools provide supportive resources for students with disabilities. As President, she will also fully implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, which she helped pass, by ensuring students with disabilities are included in state accountability systems and are held to the same expectations as students without disabilities. She will also increase funding for programs that connect students with disabilities and their families to resources that prepare them for higher education, careers and community integration.

Senator Klobuchar will also push to expand employment opportunities and hiring incentives for Americans with disabilities. That means expanding tax credits — including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Disability Access Expenditures Tax Credit, and Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit — for employers who hire individuals with disabilities and make workplaces more accessible to those employees. She will also support inclusion training programs for employers to address discrimination in the workplace.

In addition, Senator Klobuchar is committed to expanding and improving employment training programs for Americans with disabilities. She helped pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in June 2014, which strengthened workforce training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As President, she will oppose attempts to weaken the definition of competitive integrated employment. She will also expand the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, which provides funds and administers grant programs that offer training and employment assistance to people with disabilities.


4. The jobs of the future will largely require post-secondary education or other credentials. Today 65 percent of students with disabilities complete high school. What policies do you advocate to support the academic and career success of students with disabilities, especially for students from historically marginalized communities and backgrounds?

Senator Klobuchar believes it is time for the federal government to live up to its promise to our students by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She successfully supported a $275 million increase in IDEA grants to states that passed in March 2018 to help students with disabilities receive the services they need. In the Senate, she is a co-sponsor of the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers Act to put Congress on a fiscally-responsible path to fully fund the IDEA and as President she will push to get it passed into law.

In addition to fully funding the IDEA, Senator Klobuchar will take action to ensure that education facilities accommodate people with disabilities, educators have the training and resources to effectively teach students with learning and other disabilities, and schools provide supportive resources for students with disabilities. As President, she will also fully implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, which she helped pass, by ensuring students with disabilities are included in state accountability systems and are held to the same expectations as students without disabilities. She will also increase funding for programs that connect students with disabilities and their families to resources that prepare them for higher education, careers and community integration.

Senator Klobuchar will also fully enforce laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities and support the passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act to prevent and reduce the use of physical restraint in schools. She will also reinstate documents protecting the rights of students with disabilities after Secretary DeVos rescinded 72 guidance documents outlining those rights.

Additionally, Senator Klobuchar believes that early, quality child care and education is one of the most important public investments we can make as a country, especially for children with disabilities. As President, she will push to pass Senator Murray’s Child Care for Working Families Act, which would expand access to high-quality preschool and child care and prioritize the challenges experienced by children with disabilities, and she will support programs to educate child care services about barriers to accessibility

Senator Klobuchar will also ensure educators, parents and families of young children who are Deaf and hard of hearing have the resources and training to support kindergarten-readiness and will increase funding for the training of personnel serving people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, with special consideration given to Deaf professionals. She will support the reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act in 2022, and she will direct federal agencies to review rules and policies and work with state and local governments to ensure effective access to communication and information for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.


5. Immigration is a major social, political and workforce development issue. Given questions around the new “public charge” rule that impacts  immigrants with disabilities, the challenges faced by English language learners with non-visible disabilities who want to develop their skills and the talent needs of the business community, what is your vision for enabling immigrants to succeed here in America?

Senator Klobuchar believes that comprehensive immigration reform is crucial to moving our economy and our country forward. She supports a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the DREAM Act, border security and an accountable pathway to earned citizenship. She is committed to stopping the cruel and inhumane policy where the government is taking kids away from their parents. And she strongly opposes the expanded scope of the public charge rule that prevents legal immigrants with disabilities and other people in the U.S. from obtaining permanent resident status if they use programs like Medicaid, SNAP, or federally subsidized housing.


6. People with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of crime as those without disabilities. This includes the fact that both children and adults with disabilities are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. How would you address these issues?

Senator Klobuchar believes we must do more to protect Americans with disabilities. As President, Senator Klobuchar will prioritize strong enforcement of civil rights legislation, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and she will support full funding and staffing for the various Offices of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section offices to ensure disability cases are fully investigated.

Senator Klobuchar has also been a leader in the fight against sexual assault, including by introducing the Abby Honold Act to promote the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes. This legislation includes funding for training for law enforcement agencies to respond to cases involving victims with disabilities, and Senator Klobuchar will get it passed as President.


7. Today there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities behind bars. Many face serious barriers to reentry when they complete their sentences and return home. What reforms do you support to ensure that returning citizens with disabilities have the resources, skills and mental health support to succeed when they leave incarceration? 

Senator Klobuchar is committed to eliminating obstacles to re-entering and participating fully in society, including for people with disabilities who are disproportionately represented in our criminal justice system. She was a co-sponsor of the bipartisan First Step Act, which included important reforms to prepare and help incarcerated individuals successfully return to society. As President, she will expand training, employment and social services that connect formerly incarcerated individuals to housing and economic opportunity and prohibit landlords from asking rental applicants about past criminal convictions. In addition, she will also restore citizens’ right to vote after they have been released from incarceration.


8. People with disabilities also are far more likely to suffer from police violence, partially because manifestations of disability can be misunderstood. How would you address these issues?

As President, Senator Klobuchar will work with local and state authorities to ensure that responding to people with disabilities is a core part of law enforcement officer training, and expand training to public health departments, first responders and school personnel.

Senator Klobuchar also supports recommending de-escalation techniques to reduce the use of force and will work to ensure that departments accurately and properly report, document and investigate use of force incidents. And she has long supported policy changes, including videotaped interrogations, reforms to the eyewitness process, body camera trials, diversity in hiring, law enforcement resources and training, training grants and technical assistance, and meaningful and consistent outreach to our citizens.


9. How would you ensure that people with disabilities have access to healthcare and the benefits they need while enabling them with opportunities to work to the best of their capacities without losing the supports they need to live? This relates to private healthcare as well as SSI, SSDI, Medicare and Medicaid.

Senator Klobuchar believes that the Affordable Care Act is a beginning, not an end. She has fought the Trump Administration’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and opposes the Trump Administration’s efforts to kick people with pre-existing conditions off of their health insurance. As President, she will bring down the cost of health care for everyone by putting a non-profit public option in place that allows people to buy into affordable health insurance coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. She will also improve the Affordable Care Act by helping bring down costs for consumers by expanding premium subsidies and providing cost-sharing reductions to lower out-of-pocket health care costs like copays and deductibles.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act included important reforms to improve accessible medical treatment for people with disabilities. But the Trump Administration stopped changes that would have required health care providers to make non-fixed medical equipment and furniture, such as examination tables and scales, accessible to people with disabilities. As President, Senator Klobuchar will reissue these rules and ensure they are enforced.

Senator Klobuchar is also a leading advocate for reducing the price of prescription drugs. As President, she will take immediate and aggressive action to lower prescription drug prices, including allowing personal importation from countries like Canada and crack down on “Pay-for-Delay” agreements. She will also push to allow the government to directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D, building on legislation she has led in the Senate.

As President, Senator Klobuchar will also stop efforts to privatize or cap Medicaid spending, which puts services like transportation costs and long-term care at risk for Americans with disabilities. She will conduct a reassessment of the guidelines the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services use in granting of Medicaid waivers for states that have or wish to privatize the program, cap the program or convert it into a block grant to stop waivers that harm Medicaid beneficiaries, including people with disabilities who are eligible for Medicaid.

Millions of Americans with disabilities rely on SSDI and SSI to cover their day-to-day living costs. As President, Senator Klobuchar will oppose any cuts or attempts to privatize these programs, she will expand payments to address rising costs and reduce penalties for work, and she will fully fund the Social Security Administration to address SSDI decision wait times.


10. What are your thoughts on ensuring that people with disabilities have the option to live in their homes instead of institutions and still have the community attendant supports they need to live? Do you have a plan for affordable housing and to reduce homelessness for people with disabilities?

In the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has championed policies to ensure that people who want to stay in their homes and communities can do so. She is a co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019 and as President she will push to pass this legislation and address institutional bias in Medicaid to expand access to home and community-based services for people with disabilities. She will also promote remote monitoring technology and telehealth services in Medicare and other programs that improve the quality of life and expand access to quality home care and emergency hospital services in rural areas.

Senator Klobuchar is also proposing a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year to provide financial relief to those caring for a relative with a disability to help offset expenses, including the cost of medical care, counseling and training, lodging away from home, adult day care, assistive technologies, and necessary home modifications. This support will also help the many caregivers who are people with disabilities.

Senator Klobuchar also believes we must also do more to help people with disabilities afford daily living expenses and live independently. As President, she will establish a new refundable tax credit to help offset the costs of long-term care and expand access to home and community services. The credit will be available for qualifying long-term care costs including home-based and community-based services, and additional expenses like assistive technologies, respite care, and necessary home modifications. She will also invest in a world class long-term care workforce, including by increasing wages, improving job conditions and promoting other recruitment and retention policies, especially in rural communities facing workforce challenges. Additionally, Senator Klobuchar has proposed a new targeted tax credit equal to 20 percent of the premium costs of qualified long-term care insurance. And Senator Klobuchar is committed to tackling ethnic and racial disparities in care through expanding access to long-term care with a focus on reducing inequities as well as addressing the costs of long-term care services for people in the greatest need of assistance.

Senator Klobuchar also believes that all Americans deserve safe and affordable housing. As President, she will completely eliminate the Section 8 backlog and provide rental assistance to all Americans who qualify, improve accessibility in publicly funded housing units and strengthen housing programs that assist people with disabilities like the Supportive Housing Program for Persons with Disabilities. She will also aggressively enforce the Fair Housing Act and ban landlords from discriminating against people based on their income source, including disability benefits, and she has pledged to reverse the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to federal housing subsidies that could triple rent for some households and be particularly harmful for people with disabilities. She will also expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, address the estimated $50 billion in capital repairs needed to public housing and fund the Housing Trust Fund at a minimum of $40 billion per year, and update program rules to increase the number of newly constructed and rehabilitated units that meet accessibility standards.


11. The federal law and benefits system punish people who want to work or whose families want to help them. For example, currently people with disabilities who are on SSI are prohibited of having more than $2,000 liquid assets at any one time.  Furthermore, current law limits parents and grandparents to helping their children financially who acquired their disability prior to age 26 but not if they acquire a disability after age 26. What will you do to ensure that people have more options than being forced to choose between access to supports, benefits and service or the opportunity to pursue work, careers and an income?

Senator Klobuchar pushed for the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which was signed into law in 2014, to allow people with disabilities to use tax-advantaged savings accounts to cover expenses like education, transportation, and housing. As President, she will support its continued implementation and champion legislation that she co-sponsors in the Senate to expand ABLE accounts to people who develop a disability before they turn 46 rather than 26 under current law. This change will let families transfer funds saved in a 529 education savings account into an ABLE account without incurring a tax penalty and expand the amount that people can save in an ABLE account if they are working and earning an income.

Senator Klobuchar will also oppose any cuts or attempts to privatize Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income, expand payments to address rising costs and reduce penalties for work, and will fully fund the Social Security Administration to address SSDI decision wait times.


12. How would you advance innovations (i.e., assistive technologies, devices) that can help people with disabilities become more successfully employed, productive and independent?

Senator Klobuchar will work to make sure that people with disabilities can access the technologies they need to fully engage in their communities. She was the lead Democrat on the Steve Gleason Act, which was signed into law in 2018 and permanently fixes the Medicare rule that limited access to speech generating devices for people living with speech and communication disabilities resulting from conditions such as ALS, stroke, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, or Rett Syndrome. Additionally, Senator Klobuchar will establish a new refundable tax credit to help offset the costs of long-term care, including assistive technologies and necessary home modifications.


13. What are your plans to ensure that the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration supports and serves veterans with disabilities? What is your plan to support veterans with disabilities, especially female veterans with disabilities?

As President, Senator Klobuchar will provide the Veterans Health Administration the full resources it needs to provide the highest level of care to our veterans and address staffing shortages. She will consult with our veterans and expand Congressional oversight on the implementation of the MISSION Act to make sure our veterans are receiving the best possible care.

Building on a successful pilot program established by bipartisan legislation Senator Klobuchar passed in the Senate, she will launch a nationwide program as President to expand the option for veterans to schedule their medical appointments online without unnecessary red tape and delays. She will also direct the Department of Defense and the VA to report on additional steps they are taking to reduce the backlog of disability evaluations and make it easier to appeal wrong decisions to ensure our veterans are receiving the care they need and deserve.

Senator Klobuchar will also expand in-home and community-based VA services to help chronically ill, elderly, or disabled veterans remain in their homes and communities and will promote telehealth services to reduce delays and expand access to care, particularly for veterans in rural areas.

Additionally, Senator Klobuchar has consistently pushed to ensure our veterans and their families receive the benefits they are due in a timely manner. As President, she will end the unfair offset of retirement and disability benefits under current law. She will also protect veterans from unfair VA benefit practices by preventing the VA from withholding from veterans’ monthly disability benefits to pay for its own accounting errors.

As President, Senator Klobuchar will also push to pass legislation eliminating barriers to care and services for women veterans, including by expanding VA health benefits for women veterans and their babies, as well as expanding the availability of contraception and improving reproductive assistance for injured veterans. Read more about Senator Klobuchar’s plan for our veterans here.


14. People with disabilities are at extreme risk from climate change. What are your plans to reduce the climate crisis and to create emergency solutions for people with disabilities when disasters strike?

Senator Klobuchar  is deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis and believes that it is an urgent priority for our communities, for our economy and for our planet. She is a co-sponsor of a Green New Deal and has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.  On day one of Senator Klobuchar’s presidency she will get us back into the International Climate Change Agreement. On day two and day three, she will bring back and strengthen clean power rules and gas mileage standards that the Obama Administration put into place. And she will put forward sweeping legislation that provides a landmark investment in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, provides incentives for tougher building codes, promotes rural renewable energy and development, supports a landmark carbon pricing system that does not have a regressive impact on Americans, promotes “buy clean” policies, and puts our country on a path to achieving 100% net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Americans with disabilities and other traditionally marginalized communities are experiencing some of the most severe effects of climate change. Senator Klobuchar will prioritize assisting these communities as they adapt to the effects of climate change. We cannot continue to make decisions about climate change without directly and meaningfully involving the communities that are most affected. Senator Klobuchar will make sure traditionally marginalized communities are a key part of all decision-making processes. To be sure that the most vulnerable Americans do not bear the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation, Senator Klobuchar will strengthen two important programs for low-income Americans — LIHEAP, which helps with home energy costs, and SNAP, which provides nutrition assistance. Read more about her climate plan to tackle the climate crisis here.

People with disabilities are also significantly more likely to be critically or fatally injured in a disaster. As President, Senator Klobuchar will take action to ensure people with disabilities are included in all aspects of disaster preparedness on the federal and state level, including by establishing a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters focused on the needs of the disability community.  This proposal is based on Senator Casey’s Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion for Disasters Act, which Senator Klobuchar co-sponsors in the Senate.


15. Are your office, website and events accessible to people with disabilities? Have you identified a process for including people with disabilities in your staff and policy advisors? If yes, please describe.

Senator Klobuchar has always been committed to including people with disabilities on her team. In fact, her very first employees in the Senate — and and longest serving staffer — is Deaf.

In addition to making the campaign website and events accessible to people with disabilities, the campaign has taken steps to make sure qualified people with disabilities are part of the team, including by making sure that all field offices are accessible. Additionally, sign language interpreters are included at campaign events either automatically or on request depending on the type and size of event.


RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates. 

Published in#PwDsVote 2020 Questionnaire2020 CampaignAmy KlobucharDemocrats

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