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Bill McCollum Misleads Voters on His Resistance to the ADA

For Immediate Release: July 26, 2010
Bill McCollum Misleads Voters on His Resistance to the ADA
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  As Americans across the country celebrate the most sweeping civil rights legislation for people with disabilities in American history, career politician Bill McCollum is struggling to reconcile his recent statements supporting the ADA with his past opposition to the legislation. 
Earlier this year, McCollum said he was proud of his efforts to pass the ADA when he was in Congress, noting there was “Great Resistance” to the bill.  McCollum neglected to state that he was a major player in the “Great Resistance”.  He urged then President George H. W. Bush to reconsider his support of the ADA and was one of only eleven out of 166 members to vote against it in the committees of jurisdiction.  McCollum also voted for numerous amendments to weaken the legislation, even voting to make trains less accessible to those in wheelchairs.  McCollum then voted for final passage of the ADA, saying “politically, it’s a very tough vote.”
“The fact that Bill McCollum thinks legislation protecting the rights of the disabled is a tough vote speaks volumes about his character and priorities,” said Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.  “While we applaud his acknowledgment that there was “Great Resistance” to the ADA at the time, his omitting that he was part of that resistance is only another sign that he does not have the integrity to be Florida’s Governor.”
“Rather than taking credit for legislation he opposed and misleading Floridians about his record, Bill McCollum should tell the voters the truth and admit he opposed a common sense bill that has helped millions of people,” Jotkoff concluded.
June 2010:  McCollum Said He Worked On The Americans With Disabilities Act With President Bush’s Office, Adding-“At The Time There Was Great Resistance,” And “I’m Proud Of The Act.”  During a Florida cabinet session on June 8, 2010, Bill McCollum said: “I just have to comment that it was just twenty years ago, it’s hard to believe, but I was a young congressman working on this bill. I remember the hours it took, to work with John Sununu, who was then Chief of Staff with President Bush. It was not a simple matter to pass this law. This was very complicated. We think today of all the marvelous things that is accomplished, but at the time there was great resistance. A lot of fear of the unknown, on the part of businesses and others who felt that it might not work the right way or whatever. But today we look back, and in my office of course we have civil rights and we get involved with this Act as well. But it’s rare that we have to go out and enforce this law because people abide by it. And that’s just something that wasn’t true twenty years ago, and it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come and I’m proud of the Act and glad to be hear honoring it today.”  [McCollum at Cabinet, 06/08/10]
Bill McCollum, In 1990, Urged President George Bush To Reconsider His Support Of The Americans With Disabilities Act.  Bill McCollum, on April 9, 1990, co-authored a “one-page letter imploring President Bush to reconsider his support for a bill that would offer the most sweeping civil rights protection ever proposed for America’s disabled.” [States News Service, 05/ 11/90]
Of The 166 Members Of Congress To Vote On The Americans With Disabilities Act In 4 Different Committees, Bill McCollum Was One Of Only 11 To Vote Against The Measure. Bill McCollum was “one of the few naysayers when the Judiciary Committee considered” the Americans With Disabilities Act. The States News Service reported that McCollum “was one of the handful of House members to vote against the measure in committee.”  The Service added that the bill had “gone through four separate House committees” over six months, “giving scores of lawmakers a chance to toy with it, and survived with only a few minor alterations.” The bill “passed the four committees by a combined vote of 155-11,” passing out of McCollum’s Judiciary Committee on May 2, 1990, “helping it clear the final hurdle in a year-long legislative journey[.]”  [States News Service, 05/17/90 and States News Service, 05/11/90]
McCollum Voted For Two Amendments To Weaken The Americans With Disabilities Act’s Provisions Regarding Public Transit Systems.  Bill McCollum, on May 22, 1990 voted for “two amendments that would have weakened the bill’s provisions regarding public transit systems.”  According to The New York Times, “The sponsors of the amendments argued that the bill needed to be changed because of its costs to public transit systems. Opponents said the effect of the proposed changes would be to segregate people with disablities.” [Spelling error in original] [HR 2273, H.AMDT.453 Roll No. 120, 5/22/90; HR2273, H.AMDT.452 Roll No. 119, 5/22/90 and The New York Times, 05/23/90]
ADA Foes Like McCollum Were Expected To Vote For Its Passage Because “Politically, It’s A Very Tough Vote,” He Said.  In May 1990, the States News Service reported, “The Americans with Disabilities Act has shown a remarkable ability to draw ‘yea’ votes from naysayers. Despite strong opposition from business and transportation interests, two wealthy and powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill, nobody wants to oppose an equal rights bill for the disabled when the balloting begins.” Most “ADA foes cannot justify killing the measure over a few distasteful provisions. The president supports it. The Senate passed it 76-8. And it has about 250 cosponsors in the House. In fact, the ADA has gone through four separate House committees in the past six months, giving scores of lawmakers a chance to toy with it, and survived with only a few minor alterations. There was a lot of talk that the measure was an undue burden on business. Still it passed the four committees by a combined vote of 155-11. ‘Politically, it’s a very tough vote . . . everybody wants a civil rights bill for the disabled,’ said Rep. Bill McCollum[.]”  [States News Service, 05/ 11/90]
Bill McCollum, “One Of The Few Naysayers” On The Americans With Disabilities Act: “It’s Difficult To Vote Against The Vehicle That It’s Going Through.”  In May 1990, the States News Service reported, “Despite reservations some lawmakers have about implementing the bill, the strong sentiment behind its goals pushed it through the four House committees with jurisdiction by a combined vote of 155-11. The Senate passed the bill on a 76-8 vote last fall. ‘It’s difficult to vote against the vehicle that it’s going through,’ says Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., one of the few naysayers when the Judiciary Committee considered the bill. ‘But there are going to be tremendous problems with this bill when it comes to implementing it in the real world.'”  [States News Service, 05/17/90]

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