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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARTER. I am the person who introduced this language. At the time that I introduced it, I started my conversation by saying I am not opposed to--in fact, I am in favor of--access to swimming facilities and hot tubs and other bodies of water by the disabled in this country. But the facts are in this case that, yes, this has been looked at for a long time and everybody recognizes the fact that access to swimming pools and possibly hot tubs or therapeutic facilities is important for the people who are disabled. I agree. I agree with everything my colleagues have said on the other side of the aisle. Sometimes, when you're dealing with bureaucrats, you cannot get their attention to have a little bit of common sense. And you have to get their attention. And the purpose behind this is to get the Justice Department to back off until they can listen to some common sense.

My colleague on this side of the aisle has tried to point out that what the Justice Department has said, and has not been willing to clarify otherwise, is, regardless of what the regulation which was passed originally says, their ruling in January of this year was that it would be a fixed facility. That means it has to be placed permanently by the side of the body of water. That means it would be placed permanently beside every hot tub, placed permanently beside every kiddie pool, placed permanently beside every swimming pool that anybody has at any location. That would be a fixed device.

I don't know how big this device is, but I would assume it's taller than I am because it has to lift someone and put them somewhere. And I also happen to know that there are 13-year-old kids around every swimming pool in the country that figure if there's something you can climb up on and dive off of, you're going to do it.

So the swimming pool people, both publicly and privately--and let me tell you that lots of communications from public pool managers in my district, say, We don't want to close our pool this summer, but they've set a deadline we can't meet. They've required something that we cannot physically get because the manufacturers are not prepared to do it. And even though they're willing to push the deadline down the line, they're setting up a situation of danger which could easily be resolved by what we've been using already in many of the pools in our area of Texas, and that is a portable device that does exactly the same thing, but when it is not in use it is moved away from the side of the pool to a safe place where someone cannot harm themselves.

What if a child climbed up on the one fixed next to the hot tub which is 3-feet deep and dove into it? He may be stupid, but kids are stupid sometimes. We would have another disabled person.

And so the consequences of this and the cost are something that we should say, How about a little common sense, Justice Department, and answer the question: Can we use a portable device? And so far they have not answered, because they wrote the last thing in January. They set the deadline of May 15 and extended it. And all we want is an answer to that question.

I want everyone to have access to a swimming pool, and I want the disabled to have a device that's safely able to locate them there and that can safely be put away when there's no one in need of that device so that nobody else can be hurt by false use of that device.

I'm not against the disabled, and nobody on our side of the aisle is, even though our colleagues seem to accuse us of that. But I started this conversation--and my colleague on my committee knows this--and I finished the conversation by saying: All I want is to allow them to have access and let the Justice Department say something besides ``fixed device'' so that we can go forward. If we can get that, we solve this issue. It's not about putting aside the ADA. It's not about being against the disabled. It's about common sense. And the folks that have five pools can have a device to sit around in a safe place to be moved out to accommodate whoever needs this device.

It's common sense, it's good judgment, and it's a safety issue for children. And nobody wants to deprive anybody of going swimming.

So to make this very clear, I think this is something that I agree with, my opponents on the other side of the aisle agree with, and we should be in agreement and bipartisan in trying to get a commonsense resolution.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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