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Public Statements

The Able Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CRENSHAW. Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make my colleagues aware of some legislation that I filed this week, along with 28 original cosponsors, Democrats and Republicans. The legislation was filed in the Senate, as well, so it's a bipartisan, bicameral effort. It's going to be known as the ABLE Act, Achieving a Better Life Experience. This is legislation that will paint a brighter future, make a brighter pathway for individuals with disabilities to meet the uncertainties that they face.

I think we all recognize that individuals with disabilities, be it autism, be it Down's syndrome, they face tremendous challenges today. They face struggles, both financial struggles and personal struggles, that most of us can't even imagine. And they face those struggles without the advantage that our Tax Code offers for a lot of people in our society.

For instance, if you want to save for college, you can set up a tax-free savings account. The proceeds grow tax free, and you can use those moneys to pay your college tuition. If you want to save for retirement, you can set up a tax-free savings account. Those proceeds grow tax free, and you can use those dollars in your retirement years. If you want to save for medical insurance premiums, you can set up a health savings account and that account has tax advantages. And yet there are no vehicles like that for individuals with disabilities.

You can imagine, there are real-world examples where individuals with disabilities, they receive certain government benefits; but if they accumulate more than $2,000 of assets in their own name, then they're penalized. We have examples of individuals who have had to say ``no'' when somebody wanted to give them a birthday check, to say ``no'' when somebody said I'd like to help you with your housing.

We have to ask ourselves, is this any way to treat those among us who are the most disadvantaged? Of course it's not. The answer is, no. That's why we have created this legislation. That's why we proposed this ABLE Act. It's very simple; it's very straightforward. It's understandable. What it does is allow individuals with disabilities to set up a tax-free savings account as long as those proceeds are used for qualified expenses like maybe special equipment, maybe educational needs, maybe transportation or housing. It's only fair that we make our Tax Code deal with the injustice that goes on today. It's trying to make that Tax Code more fair to treat everyone more equal.

I think those of us who are more fortunate have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate. So, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to take a look at this. Again, it is bicameral, bipartisan; and it shows that we can work together to meet the needs of those among us who need our help. It is much needed and it's long overdue, and I hope we can pass it this year.

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