Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
July 26, 2022
Contact Info: 
Raymond Rodriguez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks at a Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus event honoring the 32nd anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video:
 
Click here for a link to the video.
 
“Thank you very much, [Rep.] Jim Langevin. You’re a real hero. You’re a hero to me, you’re a hero to your colleagues in the Congress of the United States, and you’re a hero to the disability community because you are such a stunning example of the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act was misnamed: it should be the Americans With Abilities Act. I say this all over the country, [Senator] Bob Casey is shaking his head, because that’s what its focus is: abilities. What can people do? Don’t waste time thinking about what people can’t do. Think about what people can do to contribute to our society. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, certainly we would have said women today and there’s no doubt about that. We’re not all the same, but we’re all equal. Opportunities to pursue happiness: that’s what the Americans With Disabilities Act is all about.

“Now I’ve got a list here – I had a list here. I have a list here, it’s got 32 names on it. I don’t know whether staff thought because it’s the 32nd anniversary, and you and I took a picture 32 years ago, that you just showed me, when we were honoring the Disabilities Act being signed. Thirty-two names. It goes not from A to Z but from Bush to Wright. How many of you remember Pat Wright? She was a warrior. So it goes from Bush to Wright, but actually it is short thousands of names. Thousands of people made the Americans With Disabilities Act work and made it pass. Because you came here, those of you who had disabilities, and talked of your experiences to Members of Congress. Talked to [Rep.] John Dingell, talked to [Rep.] Norman Mineta, whose picture is also there, the [former] Chairman of the Transportation Committee, to try to make transportation accessible, [Speaker] Nancy [Pelosi]. The fact of the matter is the Americans with Disabilities Act was the last great obstacle that we had to come – and I say that knowing full well that now we have made sure the LGBTQ community also is treated equally. They’re not the same, people are not the same. As a matter of fact, we all look different. That’s why we can facially recognize each other, unless you’re an exact twin.
 
“When I leave the Congress, I was saying to [Rep.] Debbie Dingell, when I leave the Congress, there will be two things I look back on and be extraordinarily proud of. One is when [Rep.] Tony Coelho decided to leave the Congress, he asked me to his office and said ‘Steny, I’m leaving and we haven’t passed the Americans With Disabilities Act, but I want you to get it done.’ He didn’t just mean me, the person, he meant me, the Congress. The Caucus is called a Bipartisan Caucus because this is a bipartisan, non-partisan American issue. By the way, America has led the way and the world has followed. You can find Disability Acts all over the world: in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, in South America, Central America. They understand [not] to shut people out who have abilities, and not to focus on what they can’t do. And [Rep.] Tony Coelho, who all of you know has epilepsy, and he was one of the most able people I know, one of the most hard-working people I know. But the perception was that he had a disability which would make him un-eligible to do things. That was wrong. The Supreme Court held that you actually had to have a disability in 2008 and [Sen.] Orrin Hatch and [Sen.] Tom Harkin and I fought and we changed that, because discrimination is in perception. That I perceive that you can’t do things—not that you can’t do things, but the perception. That’s what the Supreme Court got wrong and we fixed it. We – everybody in this room.
 
“That’s why I’m proud to be on your team. To make sure that America does what it says it wants to do. We haven’t always lived out that declaration perfectly, by any stretch of the imagination. But my, my, my, worldwide, that declaration rings in the ears of people who want freedom and opportunity, and the Disabilities Act made it ring a little more precisely for 43 million Americans then, I’m not sure what number we use now, but whatever the number is, it’s a large number – all of whom have abilities. This bill, which was signed by [President] George Bush, on July 26, 32 years ago in 1990, was a bill to say to all of them: ‘Come on in. We’re going to make our opportunities accessible, not just our doors, but our opportunities. ‘Thirty-two is young’ says Hoyer, who scratches his head and tries to remember 32 precisely, a long time ago. Thirty-two is young, but much has been accomplished, and has been said, much remains to be done. We still have people who are dependent and want to be independent, they want to be living independently. They want to have the reasonable accommodations to accomplish that objective. Those are all magic words that we use.
 
“Now I want to mention, and there are many people to mention, and [Speaker] Nancy [Pelosi] mentioned, Senator Kennedy, Senator Dole, Senator Harkin, who couldn’t be here but wanted to be here, Jim, as you know. [Rep.] David Price was there when we passed this bill and was such a giant spokesperson for this bill, and as I said [Rep.] John Dingell. Transportation was a big issue, it remains an issue, but we have taken large steps forward because of [Rep.] John Dingell and others and others on the Committee, and [Rep.] Norm Mineta and so many others on [the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee] in particular. So many people were involved in getting this done.
 
“I want to thank each one of you who’s here. Probably most people don’t know your name. They didn’t  know that you were here saying ‘see me.’ I love that television ad, ‘see me.’ People came to Congress, knocked on the doors, went to offices, and said ‘see me.’ ‘See the challenge I have and see how easily, relatively speaking, you can fix it, by having that door a little wider and having an elevator in a building that has more than one story. Reasonable accommodations. I tell people – we have the curb cuts, that was done for wheelchairs. But guess who uses it probably more than people using wheelchairs? People pushing carriages, bicyclists too, but people pushing carriages. So it has had an effect for all America not just those with what we call a disability, which is a challenge for sure.

“So I am very, very pleased to be here, and to introduce a dear friend of mine, someone whose family I have known a long period of time. I lost one of my dearest friends last year. His name was John Elliot and we went to Georgetown Law School together. John Elliot was a dear friend of Senator Casey’s dad, and as a matter of fact was one who encouraged him to run for Governor. At that funeral, Bob and I sat next to one another, honoring his memory, not too long ago. [Senator] Bob Casey honors the memory of his father and fights for those with disabilities every day that he serves in the United States Senate. I am very proud to call him a friend, call him a fellow warrior in the fight to make sure that that Declaration of Independence, when it said we were all due an equal opportunity, that we keep the faith of that Declaration.”