by Borys Krawczeniuk from The Times-Tribune:
Sara Wolff fought hard to help others like her, so U.S. Sen. Bob Casey offered her a special thanks.
He invited Ms. Wolff to sit in the U.S. House gallery next Tuesday to watch President Barack Obama deliver the State of the Union speech. Ms. Wolff helped Mr. Casey get a bill passed that helps the disabled.
“I was very surprised and excited at the same time,” Ms. Wolff, 31, of Moscow, said Monday. “This is my first time. I’m very excited. A little bit nervous, but very excited.”
The Achieving a Better Life Experience bill, ABLE Act for short, allows people with disabilities to save money in untaxed accounts similar to tax-advantaged accounts used by families who save for college. The act also allows Americans with disabilities to save money for education, housing, transportation and health care without losing eligibility for government programs.
The bill passed the House on Dec. 3 by a vote of 404-17 with U.S. Reps. Tom Marino, R-10, Lycoming Twp.; Lou Barletta, R-11, Hazleton; and Matt Cartwright, D-17, Moosic, all voting in favor. In the Senate, the provision was part of a larger tax bill that passed 76 to 16.
Mr. Casey voted for it; Sen. Pat Toomey voted against it. Mr. Toomey supported the ABLE provision, but voted no because of other objectionable but unrelated tax extensions, he said in a statement in December.
Mr. Obama signed the bill into law Dec. 19.
“I call it history in the making,” Ms. Wolff, who has Down syndrome, said. “It’s very important for people with disabilities, Down syndrome, autism, etc. Now, they can save money for their future.”
Mr. Casey said he wanted to honor Ms. Wolff because of her advocacy. She kept him focused on getting the bill passed with a catchphrase, “Stay pumped,” he said. Ms. Wolff testified for the bill at a Senate hearing in July.
“If she wasn’t the leading, she was one of the leading voices in the country for passage of the ABLE Act,” he said. “I wanted to acknowledge her contribution, which was substantial. She was a personal witness, which was very compelling.”