Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) today (11/15) recognized the year anniversary of the introduction of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act -- HR 3423/S 1872), citing growing support for creating tax-free savings accounts for the disabled and underscoring their continued fight to push the bipartisan bill to passage during the current lame duck session of Congress.
House and Senate bill co-sponsors and representatives from the National Down Syndrome Society, The Arc, and Autism Speaks joined them at a press conference at the House Triangle on the grounds of the United States Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 15. There, members of the group marked the anniversary of the bill's introduction in the 112th Congress, outlined the road ahead for the bill, and described an improved quality of life for individuals with disabilities through the legislation.
The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill was introduced in the 112th Congress on November 15, 2011 and has earned the support of 234 House Members and 40 Senate Members.
"A year ago we stood here to mark the start of our journey in the 112th Congress. Now, with more than half of Congress on board, we celebrate the distance we've covered and join hands in a push to the finish line," said Crenshaw. "As we move ahead, our central message of equality for the disabled remains the same. The existing tax code provides advantages to help Americans save for college and retirement, yet people with disabilities do not enjoy those same financial planning tools. These individuals and their families face enormous financial struggles that most of us cannot imagine. The ABLE Act helps ease those strains by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses. No longer would individuals with disabilities have to stand by and watch others use IRS-sanctioned tools to lay the groundwork for a brighter future. They would be able to as well. That's an accomplishment we all can be proud of and one we will reach."
Senator Casey stated, "Parents of children with disabilities face struggles on a daily basis that we can't even begin to imagine. Passing the bipartisan ABLE Act will provide a measure of security for parents with disabled children who will be able to set aside savings for their long term care in a tax free account. Helping these parents provide for the long term care of their disabled child is an issue Democrats and Republicans can come together on. I'm hopeful that we'll pass the ABLE Act this year."
Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers stated, "As the mom of a child with special needs and Co-Chair of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, I know firsthand the importance of promoting policies that will help those with disabilities lead independent lives. The ABLE Act will allow parents to save for their children's futures and give kids with disabilities an added layer of security. I'm proud to join a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders in support of this legislation, and I will do all that I can to ensure that individuals with disabilities have better and brighter futures."
Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) stated, "The support we've seen for the ABLE Act this year is encouraging, and I will continue to work with my colleagues on moving this common-sense legislation forward. As the father of a young man with Down syndrome, I am committed to finding ways to enhance the quality of life and maximize the potential for all individuals with disabilities. I strongly believe that allowing families to form tax-free savings accounts to cover certain expenses, like education and housing, will create a brighter future for our loved ones with disabilities."
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) stated: "We believe in an inclusive America where everyone has the right to reach for their full potential. People with disabilities and their families, in Maryland and across the country, are asking Congress for a greater opportunity to take charge of their own lives. The ABLE Act will give them that opportunity, and I'm pleased to be a part of this effort."
Jon Colman, NDSS President, stated, "The National Down Syndrome Society envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities. This is the precise reason that NDSS has been actively supporting and advocating for the passage of the Achieving Better Life Experience Act since it was first introduced."
Marty Ford, Director of Public Policy for The Arc, stated, "The ABLE Act will break down barriers to financial security for many families with a person with a disability. With more than half the Congress supporting this common sense legislation in a bipartisan manner, now is the time to pass it so that many people with disabilities and their families can begin to count on this important tool."
Peter Bell, Executive Vice President of Programs and Services for Autism Speaks, stated: "With the prevalence of autism on the rise and the lifetime cost of caring for a single individual now estimated at about $2 million, ABLE offers a fiscally responsible solution to address this public health crisis. We urge Congress to recognize the overwhelming bipartisan support for this measure and act for all families with disabilities this session."