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Daily Action: Why Isn't Feinstein Defending Americans with Disabilities?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

DC: (202) 224-3841
LA: (310) 914-7300

Sample Script:
Hello, my name is __________, and I am a constituent of Senator Feinstein's in _______________, California. I am calling to urge her to join the 42 other Democratic senators who have signed on to Senator Tammy Duckworth's letter opposing H.R. 620. That bill would gut the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring people with disabilities to jump through numerous new procedural hoops in order to secure their accessibility rights. It also would remove any reason for businesses to comply with ADA standards on their own initiative. Senator Feinstein must recognize that her California constituents will accept nothing less than her full-throated support for the ADA and the advancements for disability rights it has allowed. Thank you!

House Republicans, joined by a few Democrats, passed the so-called "ADA Education and Reform Act" last month. H.R. 620 is a direct attack on the civil rights of Americans with disabilities, though it has been hyped by Republicans as a way to reduce what they call "drive-by lawsuits." As it has awaited action in the Senate, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) -- who lost both her legs while serving in the U.S. military during the Iraq War -- has rounded up 41 fellow Democrats to sign a letter opposing to the bill, signaling its near-certain defeat. Those 41 include California Sen. Kamala Harris -- but not Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has not stated a position on the bill.

The 27-year-old ADA grants civil rights to persons with disabilities -- wheelchair ramps, space to maneuver in public bathrooms, accessible parking, etc. The "ADA Education and Reform Act" would shift the burdens of ensuring compliance with ADA standards from businesses, courts and bureaucrats to the disabled patrons themselves. A complainant would be required to notify a business owner of a lack of accessibility, then "educate" the business on the issue, rather than move immediately to a formal claim. Businesses then would be granted considerable leeway in addressing the situation: 60 days to respond with a written plan for improved access, then 120 days after that to "show substantial progress." In reality, a business could wait years without removing barriers to access, as long as it can continue showing "progress," and incentives for pro-active compliance would disappear.