Hatch Commemorates Passage of ADA

Orrin Hatch celebrates the 25th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act, calling his efforts to get the legislation signed back in 1990 “one of the most important things that I’ve ever done in the Senate.”

Reports Roll Call:

Hatch recalled the prickly passage of ADA in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call last week. Opposing partisan viewpoints made the process difficult, but he saw it as something that was “long overdue” and said, “The American public deserved to have done.”

“It was contentious at the time, you can imagine, because [former Sen. Edward M. Kennedy] and many of the Democrats never looked at the cost or how you pay for these things. Of course, naturally, I looked at the costs. I wanted to help, but I also wanted it to be fiscally sound,” the Finance Committee chairman said.

“Some of the Democrats wanted to go way beyond anything we could do. And some of the conservatives didn’t want to spend any money for anything,” he continued. He called it a miracle they were able to get together and work out a deal.

The famous deal occurred when Hatch, Kennedy, Harkin, former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu and a few others met with Dole in his office to finalize the legislation. The meeting became tense, and Hatch was forced to play peacemaker.

“The two antagonists were John Sununu Sr. and Ted Kennedy. At one point, Ted Kennedy shot out of his seat and I had to force him back into his seat,” Hatch said.

In “Leading the Charge,” a biography about Hatch, author Lee Roderick notes the heated dispute occurred when Sununu made a derogatory comment about Kennedy’s son, who lost a leg to cancer.

The dispute was resolved, of course, and the bill passed with help from many.