The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed and signed into law by a Republican, George H.W. Bush, in 1990. It passed the Senate 76-8. It passed the House on a voice vote, a voice vote in a chamber with 250 Democrats and a 183 Republicans. It wasn’t even controversial enough to have a roll call vote!
Last Thursday the House passed HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, and sent it to the Senate. It passed 225 to 192. It is a short bill. You can read its text here. It is superficially innocuous, a mere technical fix, but that is deceiving. Even McMorris Rodgers recognized this. She actually voted “Nay” on final passage of H.R. 620, one of the few times she has voted against the “conservative cause.”
She even issued a statement: “The ADA was enacted more than 25 years ago to protect the disability community, and as part of that community, I could not in good conscience vote for this bill,” she said in a statement.
McMorris Rodgers voting against a Republican bill was so notable it got a quarter page article in the Northwest Section of the Spokesman on Friday! In the paper version it was titled “McMorris Rodgers breaks with GOP on disability vote.” McMorris Rodgers is quoted, “While I can appreciate and understand the intent to provide fairness to businesses, any changes should preserve the spirit of the ADA and reduce the burden on individuals with disabilities to bring legitimate compliance claims,”
I am pleased with McMorris Rodgers’ statements and vote. Her family is, indeed, part of “the disability community.” Her “Nay” vote on H.R. 620 was politically painless. The bill, part of the “conservative cause” she ordinarily supports, passed easily. I don’t wish to sound snarky, but I might like her voting record better if she had family members who were a part of other at-risk groups. The following three paragraphs are from we-can-do-better.org:
In the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers [R-Wash] supported the version of this bill that excludes Lesbians, Native Americans, and immigrant women from protection. Cathy McMorris Rodgers stated that those women are “a side issue”. Spokane County’s own sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, a Republican, has stated “My concern is that the safety nets are rapidly being stripped away with funding. As safety nets slip away, it will increase the number of calls, and number of violent calls we respond to.”
Second, Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted against the Lilly Ledbetter act, which is aimed at protecting women from pay inequalities in the workplace.
Third, through the sequestration process McMorris-Rodgers voted with her party leadership to cut funding for birth control for low income women. This is likely to result in thousands of unwanted pregnancies.
I want a Representative who recognizes and supports all solid social programs no matter the composition of her family.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Extraneous detail on H.R. 620 voting:
McMorris Rodgers was joined in her “Nay” vote by Dave Reichert, “The Sheriff,” the Republican Rep from WA CD-8 who is stepping down this year (Dino Rossi is running to replace him). I applaud Reichert’s vote. Not running again apparently frees him from Republican orthodoxy.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, [R-WA-CD3], a protege of McMorris Rodgers, not only voted “Yea” on H.R. 620 but co-sponsored it. Dan Newhouse [R-WA-CD4] joined Buetler with a “Yea” vote. All other WA Reps are Democrats and voted “Nay”.
There was some party crossover. Twelve Democrats voted for the bill, nineteen Republicans voted against it. Eight Democrats and five Republicans did not cast votes.