Bob Dole was instrumental in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act

“Raising the issue of cost does not mean that I support discrimination against people with disabilities,” he remarked at a committee hearing, where he argued that it was necessary to look at costs. of the bill and what could be done to alleviate them.

At the time of the ADA’s presentation, Mr. Dole was under pressure from other Republican senators to draft his own competing disability bill, according to Maureen West, the legislative assistant who was working on it. advised on disability issues. Testifying around this time, Mr. Dole said he supported the concept of the bill, but was concerned that it would create an unreasonable burden on business and “cause a flood of unnecessary litigation “.

But after hearing from dozens of people with disabilities, Mr. Dole, then Senate Minority Leader, decided to back the ADA

“It just made her rethink the importance and momentum behind this bill at the time,” Ms. West said. “I went out with him, he was pretty calm and he said, ‘We have to make this bill come true. “”

Without Mr Dole, several lawyers said, it was possible that the ADA would never have been adopted. Or that, at least, the passage would have been much more difficult.

“Dole was our linchpin for the Republicans,” said former Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa and one of the lawmakers who introduced the ADA. the bill to address these concerns. It has also helped sell businesses on the bill by presenting it as an investment they could make to gain new customers.

Mr Dole’s involvement led to key provisions in the bill, Mr Harkin said, such as the requirement that accommodations be ‘reasonable’, ensuring that adherence to the ADA would not jeopardize not a bankrupt business, and tax credits that helped small businesses pay off. for the costs of setting up accommodation.

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