WASHINGTON, DC (September 22, 2014) — The Senate Finance Committee announced that it has reached a bipartisan agreement to move the ABLE Act allowing the creation of tax-exempt savings accounts for people with disabilities. Congress is expected to take up the bill after it returns from the November mid-term elections.
The agreement was announced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), [on left] the committee chairman, and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), [on right] the ranking member, along with the lead Senate sponsors of the bill, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC).
“Under the leadership of Senators Casey and Burr, the Senate has generated positive momentum on the ABLE Act,” according to the committee statement. “Thanks to constructive and bipartisan dialogue, the bill sponsors, collaborating with Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch, have reached a policy agreement that will serve as the foundation for final passage. We are committed to working with our House colleagues to ensure this legislation will be passed in a bipartisan, bicameral manner and sent to the President’s desk in the lame duck session.”
Autism Speaks and the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) commended the statement as a positive breakthrough.
“Autism Speaks thanks the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee for committing to finalize this bill which will make such a critical difference in the lives of Americans with disabilities,” said Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel. “With rising poverty and high unemployment plaguing the disabilities community, ABLE sends a signal that individuals and families will be able to help themselves without suffering adverse consequences.
“We look forward to quick action when Congress returns so that the bill can get to President Obama and become law,” Spielman said.
Sara Weir, NDSS’ vice president of advocacy and affiliate relations, said, “We deeply appreciate the good faith and hard work of all Members of Congress to come together to establish a path forward to the President’s desk so that the ABLE Act becomes law. We couldn’t have gotten this far without the leadership of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee and their hard working Congressional staff who are looking to make a difference in the lives of those with disabilities.”
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act has attracted extraordinary support. S.313 has 74 cosponsors, including the Senate’s Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The House version, HR.647, sponsored by Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), is cosponsored by 380 of the House’s 435 members.
The ABLE Act would allow tax-exempt Section 529 savings accounts, such as now permitted for college savings, for people with disabilities. The accounts could be used to pay for housing, medical, educational, transportation and other expenses.