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Public Statements

Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HARKIN. Madam President, as my colleagues know, I was the lead Senate author of the Americans with Disabilities Act the ADA. The ADA stands for a simple proposition--that disability is a natural part of the human experience and that all people with disabilities have a right to make choices and participate fully in all aspects of society. Thanks to the ADA, our country has become a more welcoming place not just for people with a variety of disabilities but for everyone.

In that context, I want to raise an issue in H.R. 2838, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012. Under current law, there is a provision that requires that no survival craft allow a person to be submerged in water. H.R. 2838 requires a study and report on this requirement to be completed within 6 months. While I have no objection to the Coast Guard doing another report on the issue, I want to be sure that this study will appropriately take into account the specific needs of people with a diverse variety of disabilities who may need to utilize these survival craft. For example, my expectation is that the study would not recommend that all individuals be required to hold on to the outside of the survival craft or other items, since an individual with a significant disability may not be able to do so, as a result of their disability. In addition, it is important that not only the means of egress, but also the avenues for evacuation and rescue should be accessible for people with disabilities.

I would also want to be sure that the study will be completed within the 6 month designated period.


Mr. HARKIN. Mr President, I appreciate the efforts of the Senator from West Virginia, the chairman of the Commerce Committee, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to assure that individuals with disabilities have access to survival craft that will properly protect them from injury.


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