Senate Stands Up For Constitutional Rights of the Disabled

‘The reality is that, like us, they believe this regulation is simply bad policy. It places an unfair stigma on those with disabilities and violates their constitutional rights, which is why a wide-array of groups oppose it.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the repeal of more regulations put in place by the Obama Administration as well as the Senate’s upcoming confirmation vote on Rep. Mick Mulvaney for Director of the OMB:

“The Senate has been acting to provide relief from harmful regulations by utilizing the Congressional Review Act, which provides the legislative tools needed to repeal them. I'm pleased to report that just yesterday the president signed the first of several regulation-relief resolutions we hope to send him. Later this week, he'll sign a second — a resolution identical to one I sponsored in the Senate that can bring relief to thousands of mining families in Kentucky and across the country by overturning the problematic Stream Buffer Regulation.

“And today, we will send him another one.  In a few minutes, we'll vote to protect the constitutional rights of Americans with disabilities.  The resolution will provide relief from an overly broad and legally deficient regulation that threatens the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans with disabilities.  Specifically, in the waning days of the Obama Administration, the Social Security Administration issued a rule that the ACLU and disability groups across the country oppose because it unfairly treats many Americans with disabilities.

“Under this rule, the Social Security Administration must report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System anyone who receives benefits for certain disabilities and who the Social Security Administration believes needs a representative payee to help manage these benefits.  As a result of being included on this list, many disabled Social Security beneficiaries are barred from lawfully purchasing a firearm, even though there has been no adjudication that the beneficiary is ‘mentally defective,’ which is the standard under both the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the NICS Improvement Act of 2007 for being barred from buying a firearm.

“Numerous disability-rights groups oppose the regulation as unfairly stigmatizing the disabled. They agree with us on the need to stop this regulation. The substantive problem with the regulation is compounded, the groups note, by ‘the absence of any meaningful due process protections prior to the SSA's transmittal of names to the NICS database.’  The National Council on Disability — the non-partisan, independent federal agency charged with advising the president and Congress on policies that affect people with disabilities — opposes the regulation too. The Council also urges us to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal this eleventh hour regulation ‘because of the… constitutional right at stake and the very real stigma that this rule legitimizes.’

“Our colleague from Illinois, the Assistant Democratic Leader, apparently disagrees with the ACLU, the National Council on Disability and disability-rights groups across the country. He came to the floor yesterday to discuss this issue. Like him, we are all deeply saddened by the senseless loss of life due to gun violence — and it is alarming indeed that we have seen it increase in certain communities like Chicago. But the way to address this problem is not to stigmatize the disabled or to deprive law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights without due process of law.

“The Department of Justice states that ‘Firearms violations should be aggressively used in prosecuting violent crime.’ The DOJ goes on to state that such violations are ‘generally simple and quick to prove.’  Under the Obama Administration, however, there was a 35% decrease in gun prosecutions as compared to the Bush Administration, when measured over a 10-year period. In fact, gun prosecutions decreased in almost every year of the Obama Administration. I am hopeful that the new leadership at the Justice Department will reverse this alarming trend.

“What is not helpful, of course, is the Assistant Democratic Leader's implication that the Senate is addressing this regulation as some sort of ‘payback’ to the National Rifle Association. I would inform my friend that almost two-dozen groups oppose this last minute regulation, including nearly twenty disability rights groups. Does he think that the opposition to this regulation from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, and the American Association of People with Disabilities is based on some sort of ‘payback’?

“The reality is that, like us, they believe this regulation is simply bad policy. It places an unfair stigma on those with disabilities and violates their constitutional rights, which is why a wide-array of groups oppose it.

“I'm glad the Senate will now join the House in protecting the constitutional rights of Americans with disabilities by voting to undo the unfair stigma this regulation imposes on them.  I want to thank my colleague from Iowa, Senator Grassley, who has been a leader in addressing this regulation. He introduced the Senate companion of the bill with over 30 co-sponsors.

“Our Democratic friends are getting a lot of pressure from the Far Left to ‘resist’ just about everything these days.  Reality, for one.  The responsible route for Democrats would be to have some real talk with the Far Left about how it’s past time to get to grips with the outcome of the last election. Instead, Democrats have allowed themselves to be pushed around by the fringes into a strategy in search of a purpose.

“They really can’t prevent the president’s Cabinet nominees from being confirmed, and yet they’ve undertaken the most unprecedented obstruction of Cabinet nominees in modern history. They’ve postponed hearings repeatedly. They’ve boycotted committee meetings altogether. They’ve forced unnecessary procedural hurdles to delay as long as possible.

“It’s resulted in this president having the fewest number of Cabinet secretaries confirmed on a percentage basis at this point in his presidency of any incoming president since George Washington.  And to what end?  It hasn’t changed the results.  What it’s done is force the American people to go for an unprecedented length of time without leadership at some of their government’s most important agencies.

“Well, we’re determined to work through this pointless obstruction.  We’ll take the next step in that process soon with the vote to advance a nominee who can help bring fiscal and regulatory sanity to our economy after eight years of stagnation.

“Representative Mulvaney knows that making government more effective and accountable is conducive to economic growth, and he knows that getting our fiscal house in order goes hand-in-hand with compassion.  As he himself put it, ‘[f]ixing the economy doesn’t mean just taking a green eyeshade approach to the budget. Our government isn’t just about numbers. A strong, healthy economy allows us to protect our most vulnerable.’

“That’s just the kind of attitude we need at the Office of Management and Budget.  It’s good to finally see new economic leadership in place atop Treasury and the Small Business Administration.  Now we can chart a better direction for this important budgetary agency too. And after we do, we’ll continue working through this unprecedented obstruction to seat the rest of the Cabinet.  I urge our friends across the aisle to work with us finally in doing so.  Without cooperation, then under the regular order we’re going to end up working here well into the weekend.”

Related Issues: Congressional Review Act, Nominations, Second Amendment