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Category: Senate

RespectAbility Releases 2022 Disability Voter Questionnaire for Senate and Governor Races

Washington, D.C., July 15 – RespectAbility, a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, is sending its nonpartisan voter questionnaire to candidates in competitive Senate and Gubernatorial races across the country. The outreach is being done in conjunction with RespectAbility’s online publication, TheRespectAbilityReport.org, which focuses on the intersection of disability and electoral politics. The answers to the questionnaire will be turned into nonpartisan voter guides in key battleground states across the country. This questionnaire builds on candidate outreach work done in 20202018 and 2016

Bipartisan Bill Helps Americans with Disabilities Seek Work without Losing Benefits

Washington D.C, July 9 – On June 17, 2021, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Work Without Worry Act. This piece of legislation would allow Americans with disabilities to take on employment opportunities without the fear of losing higher Social Security benefits. 

Currently, if an adult has a disability that began before the age of 22, they may be eligible for Social Security’s Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit. This benefit considers these adults to be dependents on their parent(s) and as such their benefits, like any child under the age of 18, rely on their parent’s Social Security contributions and earnings.

How Candidates & Campaigns Can Connect with Voters with Disabilities: by Nelly Nieblas and Hon. Steve Bartlett

Washington, D.C., June 28 – In the 2020 election cycle, candidates from both political parties who made their campaigns accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities won key races and helped shift the balance of power in America.

The biggest wins for candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities were in the state of Georgia where President Biden and Senators Ossoff and Warnock all made their campaigns accessible to voters with disabilities.

Taryn Mackenzie Williams Nominated to be New Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy

Washington, D.C., June 4 – This past month, the Biden Administration formally nominated Taryn Mackenzie Williams to become the next Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy. On May 27, 2021, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee met to discuss Williams’ nomination and to consider several other candidates for key political appointments. If confirmed by the Senate, Williams would become the highest-ranking member of the Biden Administration to publicly identified as a person with a disability. 

This is welcome news given that the Administration has publicly committed it to hiring diverse political appointees and yet only 3 percent of more than 1,500 candidates self-identify as having a disability. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth Serves as Role Model for Many

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month by recognizing the Legislative Leadership of Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Washington, D.C., May 23 – Since being elected to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate in 2016, Tammy Duckworth has carved a name for herself as an advocate for disability and veterans’ rights. She also bears the honor of having many “firsts” to her name. Born to Thai mother of Chinese heritage and an American father on the 12th of March 1968, Sen. Duckworth is the first Thai woman to be elected to U.S. Congress, the first woman to give birth while serving in office as a U.S. senator, and is the first female Senator to use a wheelchair.

According to the U.S. Census, as of 2019, there were 18,297,153 Asian Americans living in the United States. Out of that number, there are 1,315,999 Asian Americans who identify that they are living with some form of disability, many of whom face double discrimination. Sen. Duckworth is helping to fight these stigmas as a very public role model.

Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono Recognized for Leadership as an Immigrant and as a Person with a Disability

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month by recognizing the Legislative Leadership of Sen. Mazie Hirono

Washington, D.C., May 23 – U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) has been working in government since the 1980’s, striving tirelessly to make a difference and has made great advances on many fronts. She is the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate, the first woman elected to the Senate from Hawaii, and the first Buddhist senator. As of May 2017, Hirono is also a woman with a disability serving in the U.S. Senate.

During an x-ray before minor eye surgery, it was discovered that Sen. Hirono had stage 4 kidney cancer. Since then, she has had to undergo surgery to remove her right kidney and a rib, as well as extensive cancer treatment. Hirono considers herself lucky that she was able to get early intervention and that she had health insurance at the time of her diagnosis. Thus, she is a strong supporter of healthcare reform and specifically, Medicare for All. However, her support for healthcare reform started long before her diagnosis.

Equality Act Aims to Expand Civil Rights Protections: Why This Matters to the Disability Community

Proposed Civil Rights Bill prohibits discrimination and advances equality for millions of Americans.

Washington, D.C., April 12– On February 25, the Equality Act was passed by the House of Representatives. The Act includes a major overhaul of civil rights protections for many Americans, including millions of people with disabilities. Now, it waits for further action by the United States Senate. 

The Equality Act specifically identifies sex, gender and sexual orientation as prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation. As a result, discrimination in areas such as public accommodations and facilities, the criminal justice system, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and education would be prohibited on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation. This would be a major change and significant expansion of civil rights. In 2020, the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County expanded employment protections against discrimination for gay and transgender people.

Options for an Equitable Recovery – RespectAbility Advises Congress on Bipartisan Solutions for People with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform Congressional efforts to rebuild the economy and get workers with disabilities back to work.

Washington, D.C., April 7 – Recently, the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee invited subject matter experts, self-advocates, community members and their constituents to virtually provide ideas and insights about rebuilding the economy in a post-COVID world. 

In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbiltiy weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in outcomes for people from marginalized communities. 

Senator Casey’s Bill Aims to Incentivize Hiring of Workers with Disabilities

The proposed Disability Employment Incentive Act would offer tax credits for employers who recruit, hire, and retain workers with disabilities.  Washington, D.C., April 9 – A new bill proposed by Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) would offer valuable new tax credits to employers who recruit, hire, and retain workers with…

The American Rescue Plan: What It Means for People with Disabilities

How will this $1.9 trillion law help the 61 million Americans living with a disability?

Washington, D.C., March 12 – This week, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This massive bill includes a range of policies and programs intended to get more Americans vaccinated, help working families, and lay the groundwork for a post-pandemic economic recovery. Critically, it also contains key proposals that will directly benefit millions of people with disabilities, including helping students with disabilities get back to the classroom and directly sending stimulus checks to many people left out of previous relief efforts.

Former Senator Bob Dole’s Impact on Millions with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Feb. 25 – Last week, former Senator Bob Dole announced that he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. A one-time GOP presidential candidate and long-time advocate for bipartisan solutions, Dole has been a fixture of Washington, D.C. since he was first elected to the Congress in 1960. Throughout decades of public service, he consistently championed many of the key issues impacting millions of people living with disabilities. He did so both as an ally, and someone who became a person with disabilities in combat during World War II.  

A farm kid from Kansas, Dole enlisted in 1942 and soon was selected to be commissioned as an officer. In 1945, while serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, Dole was wounded by German machine gun fire. He was paralyzed by wounds in his shoulder and with a fractured vertebra in his neck. The wounded Kansan would have to wait nine hours in the freezing cold before he could finally be evacuated to a field hospital. Dole survived with his right arm permanently immobilized and had a long road to recovery that eventually included years of rehabilitation. Like so many people who acquire disabilities, Dole had to relearn key skills and improvise new ways of doing tasks. Because of the impairment in his arm, Dole taught himself to write with his left hand.  

The Potential of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act for People with Disabilities

This new bill will invest $15 billion to help restore the nation’s public workforce system in response to the economic collapse following the COVID 19 pandemic

Washington, D.C., Feb. 23 – In the response to the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) has introduced a new bill to kickstart the economy and get millions of people back to work. This new legislation is called the “Relaunching America’s Workforce Act” and it contains significant provisions that would specifically help workers with disabilities.

Impact on Individuals with Disabilities

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a much larger impact on the unemployment rates of individuals with disabilities compared to people without disabilities. Specifically, since March 2020, more than 1 in 5 workers with disabilities have lost their jobs at the hands of the coronavirus, compared to 1 in 7 individuals without disabilities. To put it another way, more than 1 million workers with disabilities have lost their job since the start of the pandemic. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act could play an important role in helping workers with disabilities get back into the labor force. Thankfully, this legislation explicitly mentions individuals with disabilities more than 10 times, and it provides numerous recommendations to help the disability community reenter the workforce.

Biden, Harris, Ossoff and Warnock, who reached out to voters with disabilities, to be sworn in today

Washington, D.C., January 20 – Today is Inauguration Day, and that means that four candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities will be sworn into office. RespectAbility congratulates President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and Senators-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. We look forward to working with them on issues impacting voters with disabilities.

Reaching out to the disability community may have been part of the reason that these candidates won their elections. Researchers at Rutgers University estimated that approximately 38.3 million people with disabilities were eligible to vote in last year’s election, which is roughly one-sixth of the electorate. Voters with disabilities want access in democracy, just like anyone else. At the same time, they have specific issues of interest. For example, of the 22 million working age (18-64) people with disabilities in our country, fully 70 percent of them are outside of the labor force.

The one in four adults with disabilities include people with spinal cord injuries, low vision or who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, as well as those with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, Autism or other disabilities. The sheer number of people with disabilities makes them the nation’s largest minority community.

Read more below about outreach to the disability community from these four candidates.

Ossoff, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Georgia Runoff

Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 7 – In a runoff election dominated by Stacey Abrams, Donald Trump, and unprecedented spending by the campaigns and candidates, Democrat Jon Ossoff has defeated incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue, flipping the Senate to the Democratic Party.

While neither Senator-Elect Ossoff nor Senator Perdue responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility, Ossoff did release a video statement for the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership’s live streamed voting forum that featured all four candidates. Watch Ossoff’s statement above.

Warnock, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Georgia Special Election Runoff

Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 6 – In a runoff election dominated by Stacey Abrams, Donald Trump, and unprecedented spending by the campaigns and candidates, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock has made history, defeating incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler to become Georgia’s first-ever Black Senator.

Senator-Elect Warnock responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Loeffler, despite multiple requests, did not respond to the questionnaire.

RespectAbility was not alone in reaching out to the candidates in the runoff elections on behalf of the disability community. The Georgia Disability Vote Partnership coordinated the efforts of disability advocacy organizations to get out the disability vote. The partnership hosted a live streamed voting forum featuring all four of Georgia’s Senate runoff candidates. Watch the video of Warnock’s remarks above.

GA Sen. Kelly Loeffler Reaches Out to Voters with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler has reached out to the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities, responding to questions from Sign 1 News earlier this week. 

Local disability organizations such as the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) and national groups such as RespectAbility have been reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

GA Sen. David Perdue Campaign Reaches out to Voters with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – Republican Sen. David Perdue’s campaign has reached out to the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities in statement released earlier this week. 

Local disability organizations such as the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) and national groups such as RespectAbility have been reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

Senate Voter Guide for 1,246,077 Georgians with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – With the fate of the U.S. Senate at stake thanks to the hard-fought Georgia Senate Runoff campaign, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Georgia State Voter Guide. According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Georgians with disabilities is 1,246,077, making up 12.1 percent of the total state population.

2018 employment data shows that there are 658,811 working-age people with disabilities in Georgia. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 238,875 (or 36.3 percent) of those Georgians have a job.

RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate during the entire 2020 election cycle the same key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

GA Senate Candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock Reaches Out to Voters with Disabilities

Warnock Completed RespectAbility Candidate Questionnaire and Recorded Video Response for Georgia Disability Vote Forum

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 29 – Democratic Senate candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock 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. 

Throughout the 2020 election, nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate the same key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Rev. Warnock’s responses follows: