U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said that the House will vote in December on the ABLE Act, which would offer people with disabilities a new way to save. McMorris Rodgers, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, has a 7-year-old son with Down syndrome. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said Wednesday that the House of Representatives will hold a floor vote on the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act next month.
“As the mom of a son who was born with an extra 21st chromosome, I understand firsthand how federal policies can limit — not expand — opportunities for those with disabilities. The ABLE Act will change that and I am thrilled to announce we will get this critical, bipartisan legislation to the floor this December,” McMorris Rodgers told Disability Scoop.
Matt Sparks, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., confirmed that the vote will take place the first week of December.
The news comes with time running short for the ABLE Act. It’s been under consideration in Congress since 2006, but has only gained significant traction this year.
Advocates have been pressing hard for a vote in December since efforts to enact the legislation would have to start all over again when a new Congress convenes in 2015 if the bill does not pass this year.
Under the ABLE Act, people with disabilities would be able to establish special accounts at any financial institution where they could deposit up to $14,000 annually. Individuals could accrue up to $100,000 in savings in the accounts without risking eligibility for government benefits like Social Security. What’s more, Medicaid coverage could be retained no matter how much money is deposited.
Funds in the proposed ABLE accounts could be used to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses. Modeled off of the popular 529 college savings plans, interest earned on savings within the accounts would be tax-free.
The ABLE Act is widely expected to win approval, with the vast majority of members in both the House and Senate co-sponsoring the measure.
However, getting the legislation to a floor vote has not been a sure bet. Earlier this year, lawmakers indicated that they would work together to find a way to pay for the measure before bringing it up for a vote. More recently, a group of senators said that an agreement had been reached.
Now, with the House poised for a vote, it appears likely that the Senate will act as well.
“We’re very optimistic on something happening in the Senate,” said John Rizzo, a spokesman for Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., the ABLE Act’s lead sponsor.