House Passes The ADA Amendments Act of 2008; Clears Bill for President To Sign

Group of Smiling People

On Thursday, September 18, the House of Representatives passed, and cleared for the President's expected signature, The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (S. 3406). This legislation to clarify and update the Americans with Disabilities Act has been widely supported by disability advocacy organizations, including BIAA.

Thursday's House action followed last week's passage of the bill by the Senate. The bill will now be sent to President Bush, who is expected to sign the bill shortly.

This important legislation:

• Expands the definition of disability;
• Makes it easier for workers to prove discrimination due to a disability;
• Rejects the strict standards used by the Supreme Court to determine who is disabled.

BIAA has signed on to multiple coalition letters in recent weeks and months urging passage of this legislation. This legislation aims to restore the Americans with Disabilities Act to its original intent in the wake of a series of court rulings which disability advocates assert has resulted in a category of clinically disabled people who do not qualify for protections under the ADA.

The chief sponsor of the bill, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said: “The Supreme Court decisions have led to a supreme adsurdity, a Catch-22 situation. The more successful a person is at coping with a disability, the more likely it is that a court will find that they are no longer disabled and therefore no longer covered under the ADA.”

Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said that the bill, by establishing more generous coverage and protection, “will make a real difference in the lives of real people.”