Monday, October 13, 2014
Sen. Harkin to retire
By Tim Wheat
This past May, Sen. Harkin received a sincere farewell from ADAPT activists in Washington DC, because he retires from the US Senate at the end of this term; but the Senator stated directly that he was not retiring from the fight for disability rights.
At the Spring ADAPT Action Bob Kafka introduced Tom Harkin with a brief history of the many issues that had brought ADAPT and Sen. Harkin together. Kafka said that Sen. Harkin was responsible for hundreds of ADAPT members being arrested and in return the Senator had worked to pass critical legislation that has been central to disability equality in the US.
"You have been thanking me, but that is not right. I am proud and feel privileged to be part of your group," said Sen. Harkin; "proud and privileged to have had a part to play. You are the ones that need to be thanked. You are always vigilant, resolute. No matter if it is a Democrat or Republican. If there are policies or laws or regulations that are somehow, someplace are making any one person with a disability take a backseat; you are out there. You are out there and you know what? You make us feel our consciences."
As Sen. Harkin finishes his time in Washington, he will be working to get the Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities to be ratified by the US Senate. The Convention know also as the “disability treaty” is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act but has always come up short of Senate ratification since President Obama signed it in 2009.
Harkin has been a great supporter of the disability community and is most known for introducing the Americans with Disabilities Act to the Senate and using American Sign Language in a Senate speech in support of the ADA. He is also responsible for Money Follows the Person and much of the Community Choice Act making its way into US policy.