American Congress

November 14, 2001

"Woof! You sure gotta climb a lotta steps to get to this Capitol Building here in Washington! But I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is? I\'m just a bill. Yes, I\'m only a bill, and I\'m sitting here on Capitol Hill. Well, it\'s a long, long journey to the capital city. It\'s a long, long wait while I\'m sitting in committee, but I know I\'ll be a law someday...At least I hope and pray that I will, but today I\'m still just a bill. Gee, bill, you certainly have a lot of patience and courage! Well I got *this* far. When I started, I wasn\'t even a *bill* - I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local congressman and he "You\'re right, there ought to be a law." Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress, and I became a bill. And I\'ll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law. Listen to those congressmen arguing! Is all that discussion and debate about you? Yes. I\'m one of the lucky ones. Most bills never even get this far. I hope they decide to report on me favorably, otherwise I may die. Die? Yeah: die in committee. Oooh! But it looks like I\'m gonna live. Now I go to the House of Representatives and they vote on me. If they vote "yes", what happens? Then I go to the Senate and the whole thing starts all over again. Oh no! Oh yes! I\'m just a bill, yes I\'m only a bill. And if they vote for me on Capitol Hill, well then I\'m off to the White House, where I\'ll wait in a line with a lot of other bills for the President to sign. And if he signs me then I\'ll be a law...Oh, how I hope and pray that he will, but today I am still just a bill. You mean even if the whole Congress says you should be a law, the President can still say no? Yes, that\'s called a "veto". If the President vetoes me, I have to go back to Congress, and they vote on me again, and by that time it\'s...By that time, it\'s very unlikely that you\'ll *become* a law! It\'s not easy to become a law, is it? No! But how I hope and I pray that I will, but today I am still just a bill! He signed you, bill! Now you\'re a law! Oh yes!" (School House Rock Lyrics- How a Bill Becomes a Law).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 started out exactly as the bill in the famous School House Rock episode. The bill was introduced on April 28, 1988 by sponsor Senator Lowell Weicker (R - CT), then as S 2345. It was introduced in the House a day later by the sponsor, Representative Tony Coelho (D-CA) as HR 4498. There were 63 co-sponsors in the Senate and and 249 in the House (Library of Congress). Weicker made the statement that "It will take the Americans with Disabilities Act to set the record straight as to where we stand on discrimination and disability" (United States Congress House Committee on Education and Labor). This bill was drafted principally by the National Council on the Handicapped and in response to their recommendation, it was promoted by Weicker and Senator Thomas Harkin (D- IA). Tony Coelho, later sponsor, made the statement "the act…is a major step towards achieving our dream of equality" (United State Congress House Committee on Education and Labor).

"The current bills, as well as earlier legislation on which HR 2273 and S 933 are based, stem from the work of the National Council on the Handicapped, a 15-member commission appointed by President Reagan" (Rovner 1121). The bill bars discrimination "on the basis of handicap in private-sector employment, public services, and public accommodations" (Rovner 1122). Vice President George Bush soon joined in on supporting the act, as the act was also supported by the 185 member organizations that make up the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and numerous health and social organizations that backed comprehensive protections