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This Committee has always prided itself on its bipartisan spirit. So I am hopeful that we can pass a bill this year, as President Bush has requested. Once and for all, let's settle the accessibility issue and generate new opportunities for tens of millions of Americans in the process.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, since the Airline Security Bill is on the House floor this morning, I will not be able to stay for the entire hearing. But I do want to let you know that your efforts have my full support. I want to thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Knowing that the Aviation Security Act is on the floor, many of our members are already there.
The Americans With Disabilities Act gives us a unique opportunity to complete the work that we first started when we passed the Civil Rights Act some twenty-five years ago. The ADA legislation is a tangible, significant effort to knock down the barriers confronted by Americans with disabilities as they continue their efforts to be self-reliant, productive members of society
The Americans With Disabilities Act will provide basic civil rights protections to our 43 million disabled friends, neighbors and colleagues. This legislation would prohibit discrimination against disabled individuals in terms of employment opportunities, public services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.
Many disabled individuals have cited a lack of transportation as the chief barrier to full participation in their communities. Accessible transportation is the vital link to employment for the disabled community in the same way that transportation links the ablebodied to their jobs and careers.
Tremendous technological advances have been made in recent years which offer increasingly easy access to the work place and other community activities for persons with disabilities. Our nation has achieved great expertise in the construction of accessible housing and transportation systems. Full access for Americans for disabilities is now well within our grasp. So we owe it to ourselves and our society to achieve this goal.
During today's hearing, we will be examining the transportation requirements that are included in the Americans With Disabilities Act bill. Specifically, the ADA requires that all new fixed-route public-transit buses be able to accommodate wheel chairs and their users. It mandates that our rail transit systems and stations be made fully accessible.
In addition, the bill makes accessible demand-responsive service, inter-city bus transportation, and other privately-provided transportation as well as transportation services that are provided by hotels, airport rental car companies and other enterprises not in the principal business of providing public transportation.
While we have the responsibility of assuring that these provisions of the bill are comprehensive, carefully stated and will achieve the intended results, the ADA Bill is, first and foremost, a civil-rights bill. Our nation has worked to respond to the needs of other minorities who have been denied equal opportunity because of ignorance and prejudice. We must now address the needs of dis
abled Americans who are currently denied the opportunity to be full participants in our communities.
President Bush, members of both parties, the House leadership, the unanimous vote out of the Committee on the Senate side, as well as a strong 76 to 8 vote in the Senate and a number of private non-profit organizations, fully support this legislation.
I am hopeful that, following our hearings, we can take swift and positive action on this civil-rights legislation.
At this time, I would like to call on our very fine colleague and a member of this Committee, a hard-working gentleman from Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Surface Transportation Subcommittee, Mr. Bud Shuster.
Mr. SHUSTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I would like to ask unanimous consent that the statement of the ranking member of the full Committee, the Honorable John Paul Hammerschmidt, be made a part of the record. Mr. MINETA. No objection. So ordered. [Mr. Hammerschmidt's prepared statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOHN PAUL HAMMERSCHMIDT Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I would like to commend you, Mr. Chairman, and Congressman Shuster for scheduling these two days of hearings on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This proposed legislation is designed to end discrimination against individuals with disabilities and to bring persons with disabilities into the economic and social mainstream of American life. These are certainly goals which I personally support.
Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of working very closely with fine organizations such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America on many issues. My work with these groups has given me a first hand understanding and appreciation of the many barriers facing the disability community.
No where are these goals more important than in transportation, for it is often the key which enables the disabled to become part of the mainstream and take advantage of education, employment and recreational activities. Mobility for the disabled American is our upmost consideration. Testimony for our broad collection of knowledgeable witnesses will help us to determine how best to achieve that mobility.
The proposed legislation offers solutions to the transportation problems of the disabled which are complex and wide ranging in their potential impact. We must be sure that we understand exactly what the legislation would require of the transportation providers. We must understand the variety of ways in which our disabled friends are presently aided in the many communities across our Nation and what effect these requirements would have on current services. We must remember the needs of not only wheel-chair bound individuals, but the mentally impaired, the growing population of elderly Americans, and others who benefit from special transportation services. Concerns have been raised as to whether or not the requirements of the proposed bill, as applied to all situations, will result in greater mobility. Until we know the facts, we can not be assured that our common goal of improved service to the disabled will in fact be achieved.
I look forward to hearing from all our distinguished witnesses and working with the subcommittee on this important legislation.
Mr. MINETA. Now, Mr. Shuster, ranking member of the subcommittee.
Mr. SHUSTER. Mr. Chairman, as some of my colleagues know, I bring a very personal interest to this legislation, having a mother who is a double amputee in a wheel chair. I have banged up my knuckles more times than I can remember trying to juggle a wheel chair through a door that was too narrow or trying to get a wheel chair up a flight of stairs or into rest areas. While all of that,
indeed, was a labor of love, it certainly brought home to me in a very, very personal way, the need for us to address the issue of providing access to disabled people in our country.
Mr. Chairman, I certainly anticipate supporting this legislation. I anticipate our passing it through the House and making it law this year, but having said that, I am concerned with some of the transportation provisions in it because I think there are some reasonable concerns that we are going to have to focus on.
For example, having lifts on every bus does not do a thing for those thousands of disabled people who need door-to-door transportation. I think we have got to be very careful that we don't limit our focus in this area. Having lifts on buses does not do a thing for those disabled who live in snowy areas of the country where lifts do not work in snowy conditions.
I think we have got to be very careful that we craft this legislation so that it not only expresses a very strongly-felt civil rights view but that it also takes into account the diversity of interests, not only regionally, but among people with different disabilities and, indeed, people in different age groups of the disabled.
I am also concerned, Mr. Chairman, that if we increase costs to the point that we bring about a reduction of service, then we are not serving the disabled. We are not serving the general public, either. If we increase cost, particular in the private sector, so that we drive small transportation companies out of business, we are not serving the disabled nor the general public.
So I believe that we should be focusing on the cost implications here and focusing on the diversity questions to make sure that what we do is not only good but right and reasonable and cost-effective for all Americans.
With those comments, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to our crafting legislation that can become law, that can improve the lives of ...the millions of disabled in this country. I congratulate you for holdring these hearings and look forward to the weeks ahead.
So I thing the disansportation
STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE BUD SHUSTER
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1989 - 10:00 AM
2167 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
THANK YOU MR. CHAIRMAN.
I WOULD FIRST LIKE TO THANK CHAIRMAN MINETA FOR SCHEDULING THESE HEARINGS ON THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK OUR WITNESSES, THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, THE
DISABLED COMMUNITY AND THE TRANSIT INDUSTRY FOR JOINING US.
THE LEGISLATION WE ARE EXAMINING TODAY HAS AS ITS GOAL, THE INTEGRATION OF THE DISABLED COMMUNITY INTO OUR SOCIETY THROUGH INCREASED MOBILITY AND ACCESS TO OUR NATION'S TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS.
WHILE I SUPPORT THE WORTHY GOALS OF THIS LEGISLATION, WE SHOULD, I FEEL, TEMPER OUR PURSUIT BY THE QUITE REASONABLE CONCERN THE
SOLUTIONS PROPOSED WILL HAVE UPON THE ACCESS ALL AMERICANS, BOTH
DISABLED AND NON-DISABLED, WILL HAVE TO TRANSPORTATION. IF IN OUR
EFFORTS TO 'MAINSTREAM' DISABLED AMERICA, WE IMPOSE SUCH AN ECONOMIC BURDEN UPON THE TRANSIT AUTHORITIES OF OUR COMMUNITIES – BOTH LARGE AND SMALL, THAT SERVICE IS CUT BACK OR EVEN DROPPED, THEN WE HAVE SHIRKED OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE DISABLED COMMUNITY THIS BILL IS DESIGNED TO HELP AND PROTECT.
I AM CERTAIN HOWEVER, THAT A SOLUTION CAN BE FOUND THAT WILL SERVE TO INCREASE THE MOBILITY OF OUR DISABLED CITIZENS WHILE PRESERVING AND IMPROVING EXISTING TRANSPORTATION SERVICES. WHETHER
THIS SHOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH A FLEXIBLE, COMMUNITY APPROACH
OR WHETHER GEOGRAPHIC AND CLIMATIC CONDITIONS SHOULD PLAY A GREATER
ROLE OR WHETHER FULL ACCESSABLITY IS WARRENTED, WILL I HOPE, BE
FOR THESE REASONS, I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM OUR WITNESSES
TODAY AS THEY SHARE WITH THE COMMITTEE THEIR EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE ON THIS ISSUE. WE MAY THEN MOVE FORWARD TOWARD OUR GOAL
OF A TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM WHICH ALLOWS THE DISABLED OF OUR SOCIETY
ACCESS TO ALL FORMS OF TRANSPORTATION AND THEREFORE TO ALL WALKS OF
LIFE ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.