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Department Of Labor, Health And Human Services, And Education, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - July 18, 2007)

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Mr. HOLT. Madam Chairman, as you may know, the funding authorized for the Help America Vote Act of 2002, known as HAVA, for disability access and protection and advocacy payments, was never fully appropriated. Section 261 of HAVA authorized $100 million in disability access funding to make polling places accessible to individuals with disabilities and to provide them with information about the accessibility of polling places.

I am sure the Chair and my colleagues would agree, it is important for equality under the law that all voters have good access to voting.

In addition, section 291 authorized $10 million annually for fiscal years 2003 through 2006 and such sums as necessary thereafter to pay for the protection and advocacy systems of each State to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including the process of registering to vote, casting a vote and gaining access to polling places. To date, only $55 million of that amount has been appropriated under HAVA to fund accessibility, and only $22 million has been appropriated to fund protection and advocacy systems.

Voting is indeed the cornerstone of our democracy, and unless all eligible voters are assured access to the polls, that fundamental right and the integrity of our electoral system generally are severely undermined. Therefore, I seek to amend the bill to provide $15 million in funding for accessibility under section 261 of HAVA, and an additional $6 million in funding for protection and advocacy systems under section 291 of HAVA, for a total increase of $21 million. This would result, as you can quickly calculate, in several hundred thousand dollars per State to assist in voting for voters with disabilities.

I urge my colleagues to support this increase.

Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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