President Clinton: Remarks for the Sixth Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1996)
In a 1996 speech, President Clinton declared that a national disability policy should be based on inclusion, independence, and empowerment. On this Sixth Anniversary, he calls for vigorous enforcement of the ADA and emphasizes that excluding someone from full participation in society because of a disability is simply wrong.
I am pleased to join with all Americans to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. When I ran for president in 1992, I declared that America must have a national disability policy based on three simple creeds: inclusion, independence, and empowerment.
We must make sure that all Americans understand it. and understand that it is just as wrong to discriminate against someone because of a disability as it is to discriminate against someone because of face, gender, or religion. We must make sure that all Americans understand that excluding someone from full participation in society simply because of a disability is simply wrong.
The promise of the A.D.A. and all other disability rights laws will never be realized until we rise to these challenges. To do that, we must first make sure the A.D.A. is consistently and vigilantly enforced. My administration has made vigorous enforcement of all laws protecting people with disabilities a top priority.
And we'll stay this course until all barriers against individuals with disabilities come down. Consistent with this commitment, my budget for 1997 proposes a 3.9% increase in the resources available to enforce the A.D.A.
We're on the path to balancing the budget in seven years. Funds are tight all across the government. And there's a lot of cutting to be done. But this is a national priority.
As we celebrate the sixth anniversary of the A.D.A, we must also remember that a civil rights law alone will not achieve our goal of inclusion, independence, and empowerment for people with disabilities.
That's why we passed the Family and Medical Leave Act and why I proposed extending it so that employees can take time off for their children or parents' routine medical visits. That's why I'm committed to preserving our national guarantee of Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities.
For over 30 years, Medicaid has been a lifesaver for millions of Americans and their families. The Republican Congress sent me legislation to repeal that guarantee. I vetoed it last year. And if they send it to me again, I'll veto it again.
And we must strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I.D.E.A. makes it possible for students with disabilities to take full advantage of the opportunities of the new global economy and the information revolution.
I know how much I.D.E.A means to the millions of students with disabilities and to their parents, and I strongly support it. Each of us must do whatever we can to expand opportunity and demand responsibility from all our citizens.
We can't afford to waste a single person as we go forward to the 21st century. You can count on this administration to do its part. And I know I can count on each of you to do yours.
Thank you, and God bless you.