Conyers Opposes Legislation Limiting Americans With Disabilities Act
Washington, DC, April 25, 2012
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on “The Department of Justice’s Guidance on Access to Pools and Spas Under the ADA.” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (“ADA”) more than 20 year old mandate for businesses to take “readily achievable” steps to increase access for people with disabilities, with a particular focus on the Department of Justice regulations and guidance for access to swimming pools. The Department of Justice concluded after a multiyear process that a fixed or permanent lift is the safest and best alternative and that, where public and commercial pool owners can install a fixed lift easily and inexpensively, they should do so. Currently, there are two bills introduced in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4200 and H.R. 4256, that would nullify this requirement, overriding a nearly decade-long regulatory process and limiting the Department of Justice’s authority to enforce the ADA.
House Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released this statement following the hearing.
“The multitude of supporters in attendance at yesterday’s hearing demonstrates just how critically important the protections afforded by the ADA are to Americans with disabilities,” said Conyers. “Two bills have now been introduced in the House – H.R. 4200 and H.R. 4256 – that would nullify Department of Justice regulations regarding access to swimming pools. I oppose these two bills.
“The regulations at issue did not come out of the blue. They reflect two decades of public policy, and a decade of work on the particular standards. They have been the subject of public notice, public comment, and extensive scrutiny. Legislation that would undercut or eliminate this rule is ill-considered and lacks the carefully crafted balance that is reflected in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the rule itself. The rule itself is carefully crafted, flexible, and will not – contrary to many concerns that have been raised – impose an undue burden on affected businesses. Indeed, that burden is precluded not just by the rule, but by the ADA itself.
“I hope that, if there is any effort to move legislation on this important issue, that the Judiciary Committee has the opportunity to hold another hearing first and have the most complete record we can assemble. The longstanding, bipartisan commitment to the ADA is too important to do anything else.”