Disability Integration Act Goes Nowhere in a Year After Introduction

By: Jose Guerra  | Updated Jan 24, 2020

Originally introduced to the house by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Disability Integration Act of 2019 (H.R. 555) enjoyed wide bipartisan support. The bill intended to eliminate discriminatory practices towards individuals with disabilities through reinforcing state compliance to the ADA, among other clarifications. With nearly a year in passing, congress has lingered on performing any actions to move the bill forward.

The last action taken was on February 25th, 2019. It was a referral to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, which is under the Committee of the Judiciary. Beyond that, nothing else has been forwarded. As it was publicized, Democrats and Republicans across the board hailed this piece of legislation as fundamental to extending protections and long-term care to individuals with disabilities. So what happened? 

ADAPT, a grassroots activist organization for promoting civil rights pertaining to disability, reported in June of last year that there is an “effort by Congressman Pallone to block the civil rights of the millions of disabled Americans.” The report itself was echoed and posted on the DIA’s main website. 

The problems surrounding passing this bill have existed for quite awhile. In 2017, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the DIA with bipartisan support yet in terms of actions, introduction was all that occurred. Disability justice advocates from both parties have pushed towards ensuring a vote would happen on the house floor. Many Americans with disabilities are still waiting to see that day arrive.

Wider reflections on the narrative congresspersons have on the disabled community may point towards why this piece of legislation has not been called to a vote. Understanding the necessity for independence and Long Term Service & Supports (LTSS) is key to ensuring proper legislation is produced, supported and passed. Disability rights are civil rights and to the extent that everyone is subject to the possibility of becoming disabled, it is an issue all persons should be concerned with. 

Enjoying wide bipartisan support, the Disability Integration Act has gone nowhere for several years. While both Democrats and Republicans have supported this bill, other legislatures within each party have not worked towards ensuring bills concerning disability are taken to a vote. Much needs to be done in terms of education on the topic of disability so as to yield the results necessary for people to live comfortable lives.