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Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the new Federal regulation that many may or may not be aware of. According to the Department of Justice, every swimming pool of ``public accommodation,'' meaning any pool at a hotel, motel, lodging establishment, recreation center, YMCA, apartment complex, condominium complex, school, or community pool, is to install a large, expensive permanent pool lift for the disabled, or else face steep fines from the Department of Justice and the threat of lawsuits.
We must make sure that we have accommodations for the disabled in every public place. This is happening around the country. But to do this with very little thought of the implications and the cost and the actual service to the disabled is a huge problem.
As we have seen time and time again, one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington don't work. We want public pools to have the flexibility to work with people with disabilities to ensure success.
On January 31 of this year, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division published revised requirements for swimming pools and their means of entry and exit. This was 2 months ago.
The DOJ has now put forth new requirements for all facilities ``of public accommodation'' that go beyond those contained in the final rule issued in 2010 giving hotels and other residential communities insufficient time to comply with this burdensome new rule.
We need to think about it for a minute, because their lack of planning here is pretty evident by the fact that they are suggesting that this already be in place in less than 2 months, when the equipment is not even available in the country to do it. So it is clear that they have not thought through how to best serve the disabled, how to make sure that these services are available, and to do it in a way that does not put an undue burden on businesses that want to provide this service.
Senator Graham and I have a bill that nullifies the requirement and stops the Attorney General from enforcing this requirement or any ``guidance'' associated with it. It also prevents against any third party using this rule or guidance in any manner.
To be clear, our bill will allow public pools to work directly with people with disabilities to meet their specific needs. Hotels, motels, and other public pools already have financial incentives to meet the needs of people with disabilities that use their facilities. They have been working diligently to do that. Our bill simply says the DOJ should not impose a national mandate for a one-size-fits-all solution that may not be appropriate for every facility.
This new burdensome rule seriously changes the obligations of public facilities around the country. There are an estimated 309,000 public spas and pools in the United States. The number of businesses--and not just the large hotels and resorts--that will have to comply is staggering.
The rule requires a permanent pool lift be installed for every pool or spa. So if a hotel, resort, or community association has more than one pool, they will have to get multiple lifts, instead of what is being done now, which is using a portable lift that can be moved around the facilities as needed.
A pool lift can run from $4,000 to $10,000, and the installation could run $5,000 to $10,000, depending on how much work needs to be done. So we are talking about billions of dollars being spent on something that could perhaps help the disabled but also become an obstacle and danger to others using the pool if this is not thought out and done in a careful manner.
The last thing we need to do right now is to add burdensome rules and requirements on businesses across the country. Hotel owners want to work in good faith to make sure pools are accessible to everybody, but we have to make sure that here at the Federal level we are not killing off more businesses by imposing mandates.
Mandates such as these are burdensome on businesses, and we all know these costs will be passed on to consumers--including the disabled--in the form of higher hotel costs for rooms and services.
The Department of Justice has left many questions from the hotel industry and others unanswered on issues such as compliance ability, timeframe, and economic cost, as well as rising insurance premiums.
It is clear that the deadline for compliance should be extended to allow hotels and other places of public accommodation flexibility in providing access to guests with disabilities. We should start over. They have given a 60-day relief period, but that is not enough time for this to be planned or for the equipment to be manufactured. The companies cannot comply in this period of time.
We need to guarantee that services are available to the disabled, but the quickest way to do the wrong thing is the way the Justice Department is doing it now. So instead of us letting this go into effect and letting large fines be put on businesses all around the country, even community pools and YMCAs, let's set this judgment aside by unanimous consent today, and if we want to debate and work with the Department of Justice to come up with a rule that works for the disabled and works for America, we can do that. But I have a unanimous consent request here that I wish to read.
I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 336, S. 2191, that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements relating to the bill appear at this point in the Record.
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