THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Paris, France) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 16, 1999
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Nearly a year ago, I committed to working with Senators' Jeffords and Kennedy to pass the Work Incentives Improvement Act. In January, in my State of the Union Address, I urged the Congress make this historic, bipartisan legislation a top priority and fully funded it in the budget I sent to Congress. And on June 4th, I challenged the Congress to send the Work Incentives bill to me by July 26th , so I could sign this legislation into law on the 9th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Today, in an overwhelming 99 to 0 vote, the Senate passed the Work Incentives bill. This impressive vote sends a strong signal that all Americans, including people with disabilities, should have the opportunity to work. Americans with disabilities can and do bring tremendous energy and talent to the American workforce, but the unemployment rate for all working-age adults with disabilities is nearly 75 percent. One of the most glaring problems is that people with disabilities frequently become ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare if they go back to work. This puts people with disabilities in the untenable position of choosing between health care coverage and work. The Work Incentives Improvement Act would improve job opportunities for people with disabilities by increasing access to health care and employment services.
Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, Roth, and Moynihan deserve special recognition for their leadership on this historic legislation. I urge the House to follow their lead. Under the leadership of Congressmen Bliley, Dingell, Waxman, and Lazio, I am confident that it will. I also hope and expect the Senate and House to find offsets for this bill that are acceptable to all parties. This bill will provide critical work opportunities to people with disabilities, and I look forward to signing this groundbreaking legislation.