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Harkin Welcomes Obama Administration’s Efforts to Expand Job Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement after Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis proposed a new rule requiring federal contractors to set a hiring goal of having 7 percent of their workforces be people with disabilities.  Harkin, chief sponsor in the Senate of the ADA, has held several HELP Committee hearings on increasing employment for Americans with disabilities, after setting the goal earlier this year of raising the number of Americans with disabilities in the labor force to 6 million by 2015.

“At a time when less than a third of adults with disabilities are working, I commend Secretary Solis for her efforts to ensure that the federal government uses its purchasing power to support hiring Americans with disabilities.  A meaningful federal contractor commitment to recruiting and retaining qualified workers with disabilities will improve employment outcomes for would-be workers with disabilities, add to the diversity of the federal contractor workforce, and improve retention of baby boomers who acquire disabilities as they age.  I look forward to reviewing the new proposed rule and working with the Department of Labor, the disability community, and the business community to raise the bar on disability employment among the federal contractor community, which represents over 20 percent of the jobs in America”