Congress Has Yet to Pass The ABLE Act

Published: Apr 11, 2014 18:00pm EDT
By Lance Rinker, Managing Editor for Konsume Politics

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 11, 2014 @ 06:00pm EDT


Representing the Republican Party for nearly two decades in the Senate now and serving the people of Kentucky for even longer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has gained the reputation of being an obstructionist when it comes to working with democratic colleagues to pass legislation in Washington. While he has used his extensive knowledge of Senate rules and procedures to bring all legislation proposed by Democrats to a screeching halt, you can’t claim he isn’t representing the interests of Kentuckians and less fortunate with his support of the ABLE Act.

The ABLE Act, also known as ‘The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2013’, is a bill that is cosponsored by 70 different senators so far, with Senator McConnell being one of them, and has received tremendous bipartisan support from members of the House and the Senate.

What the ABLE Act does is amend Section 529 of the IRS Code of 1986 to create tax free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. You may be wondering why an amendment to a particular section of the IRS code is needed for something as common sense as that, but the issue itself is quite complicated from a legislative and law standpoint.

As the law is currently structured pertaining to individuals with disabilities – in order to qualify for many benefits such as social security, supplemental security income, Medicaid, and the list goes on and on you can only earn up to $700 a month and collect no more than $2,000 in assets.

That law stipulating certain restrictions on earning power and income potential for those with disabilities dates back to 1974 and disqualifies one from the aforementioned programs. Limits that are far below the poverty line and force those with disabilities to be nearly completely reliant upon the government for assistance, especially those that are still capable of living fulfilling and satisfying lives.

529-ABLE plans, as it is being called, would help ease the burden parents face when raising a child with one or more disabilities and would also promote independence for those with a disability to take care of oneself without fear or risk of losing out on vital benefits needed for expensive healthcare and long-term care costs.

Senator McConnell has responded to the petition on with this statement:

I am proud to have co-sponsored the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013. This bipartisan legislation would assist Kentuckians with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities.

I have heard from parents across the Commonwealth and the nation who have children with disabilities and find it difficult to encourage their independence and save money for the future. I proudly support the ABLE Act on behalf of the Kentucky families, children, and individuals living with disabilities, and I look forward to working to help get this legislation through the Senate and enacted into law.

While the bill itself has received bipartisan support, this is one of the few bills sponsored that Senator McConnell and Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid actually agree on, it has yet to be brought up for a vote. As a matter of fact, supporters of the ABLE Act have been trying for eight years to get this bill passed and with over 300 cosponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives and 70 in the Senate you would expect this to get taken care of.

The good news for supporters of the ABLE Act is that the bill has been read twice in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. The bad news is that the bill has been sitting there, waiting to be reviewed by the committee since February 13, 2013. That doesn’t mean the bill is dead or will never get passed, it just means that supporters are still waiting for the bill to be taken up for a final vote among all of Congress. From there, if passed, it would then be sent to President Obama to put his signature on the bill and then it would become the law of the land. 


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