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Public Statements

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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 5326) making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes:

Mr. ROTHMAN of New Jersey. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong support of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) final rule detailing requirements for accessible entry and exit for pools and spas under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and in opposition to a provision included in the Commerce, Justice, and Science FY13 Appropriations Bill to inhibit DOJ's enforcement of this important rule.

Over twenty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the accessibility of swimming pools and other recreational facilities remains important to people with disabilities around the country. The 54 million Americans living with disabilities deserve to finally be able to enjoy these facilities to the same extent as others in our society.

The Department's process to develop accessibility guidelines for swimming pools began over 7 years ago on September 30, 2004, and the DOJ published the final rule on September 2010 after receiving feedback from all stakeholders and the public. DOJ delayed compliance until May 21, 2012 and issued guidance at the beginning of this year, clarifying the intent of the final rule.

The final rule ensures that small, family-owned business are not overburdened, by only requiring installation of fixed pool lifts for existing pools and spas if it is ``readily achievable,'' meaning that it is not overly costly or burdensome. It strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of Americans living with disabilities and our businesses.

The need for pools and spas to be accessible for people with disabilities is not a new idea, but one that has been in federal law for more than 2 decades. The requirement to remove barriers to accessibility to swimming pools for people with disabilities has been part of the statutory requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act since it was passed in 1990, almost 22 years ago. The regulatory process is functioning just as it was intended to.

People with disabilities should be able to enjoy the same recreational amenities and opportunities as every other American. Delaying the effective date of the regulations any further will mean another season where people with disabilities will be denied the opportunity to use pools when they travel on vacations with their families or on business.

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