Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on His Plans for Full Participation and Equality for People with Disabilities
Thirty years ago, thanks to the incredible moral leadership of my friends Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Tony Coelho, and the courage and determination of the disability community, I proudly cosponsored the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was an enormous step forward for our country. It advanced equality and access to public spaces, transportation, government services, and so much more. And it demonstrated that Democrats and Republicans could work together to pass important legislation that made life better for millions of Americans.
But 30 years on, the work of ensuring that everyone has access to the tools they need to participate fully in our society isn’t yet finished. That’s why today, I’m releasing a comprehensive plan for people with disabilities to move us closer to full equality.
For me, it all comes down to a simple truth: everyone is entitled to a life of dignity and opportunity. That’s my north star. That’s why, from the beginning, I’ve made building a more inclusive and more resilient middle class the cornerstone of my campaign. And this time, we’re going to make sure everyone comes along.
Everyone should be able to live independently in their chosen communities, enriching our society with their talents and contributions. Everyone should have access to high-quality, affordable health care, including mental health care. Everyone deserves competitive, integrated employment and educational opportunities.
And in a time of pandemic, when people with disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to this virus, we must redouble our efforts to ensure they have the resources and the protections they need for their health, well-being and independence.
So today, in addition to a comprehensive disability policy, I’m also releasing a COVID-19 specific policy to ensure the needs of people with disabilities are being addressed during this crisis. We need to make sure that health care isn’t rationed and fully enforce non-discrimination protections throughout our recovery. We need to expand home and community-based services, and make sure that caregivers also have access to emergency paid sick leave and financial support.
As we recover and rebuild from this crisis, we have a once in a generation opportunity to transform our country. And as we do, we must make sure that disability rights, and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, is central to our agenda.
The disability community must be heard, listened to, and respected, because this is an issue that matters to every American: equality. We can meaningfully expand opportunities for people with disabilities and reverse the real harms that Trump has inflicted.
From the very beginning, Trump showed his heartlessness and disrespect for this community when he publicly mocked and degraded a Pulitzer-winning reporter for his disability. It was an appalling moment in our politics, and since then his record has matched his rhetoric. Trump has sought to strip away the protections of Obamacare and gut supports in Medicaid and the Supplemental Security Income that benefit people with disabilities.
It’s despicable. And, it’s not who we are.
The American people can achieve anything we set our minds to. Ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things everyday, given half a chance — but it’s up to us to make sure that no one is denied their chance, not because of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, economic status, or zip code — and not because they have a disability.