Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Disability Warrior

These are desperate times and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL) minced no words in a USA Today editorial, calling out Republicans on behalf of people with disabilities and those most at risk for COVID-19.

1. The virus spreads like wildfire in congregate settings like nursing homes, causing 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. In their bill and negotiations, Republicans ignore this. Duckworth:

[T]the GOP refused to provide the urgently needed 10% increase in funding for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services — despite that we know that Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities are killed at staggering rates when infected with COVID-19, and despite that Republican and Democratic governors alike desperately need us to pass this commonsense policy that would save lives.

2. She shows Republicans’ proposal to limit business liability actually suspends accessability under the ADA. Never let a good crisis go to waste:

Disability rights are human rights, and these civil rights must never become optional benefits that can be stripped away whenever it’s convenient or cheaper for employers or others in power. Allowing businesses to exclude employees with disabilities from reopening plans is exactly the type of discrimination that the ADA sought to abolish. Yet the Republican HEALS Act could relegate millions of Americans back to second-class status, sending the message that our community can be cast aside if the costs to companies are too high…The passage of the ADA was supposed to consign workplace discrimination stories to the history books… Yet here we are in 2020, and Senate Republicans are shamelessly using a deadly pandemic as cover to gut the ADA and hoist that brick wall of exclusion right back up.

Duckworth wrapped up a big week by addressing the virtual Democratic National Convention in primetime. She said national security and our troops’ well-being rely on solid leadership, which is lacking under a president she labelled “Coward-in-Chief.” She wasn’t picked for VP, but continues as a steadfast champion for those with disabilities and the troops, who will bring her priorities and advocacy to a likely role in any new government.

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