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Washington, D.C.- Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Pat Roberts (R- KS) joined Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) and national disability advocates to kickoff the Employer Work Incentive Act, a bill that seeks to reduce the high unemployment rate among severely disabled Americans. “This legislation can help our citizens with disabilities become full and participating members of their community, while creating the employment opportunities needed to fulfill that dream,” said Senator Kennedy. “Government and the private sector must work together to provide all Americans with the opportunity to achieve personal and economic self-sufficiency. Individuals with disabilities deserve the dignity and satisfaction that comes from earning a living wage.” “It is time for a change in the way we think about employing individuals with severe disabilities,” said Senator Pat Roberts. “We must create job opportunities for people with severe disabilities in the national workforce, not just in government-operated programs.” As Senator Kennedy stated at today’s press conference, this legislation encourages companies that do business with the federal government to truly open their doors and employ the disabled. Under the new legislation, businesses that employ the severely disabled will be offered incentives, such as the opportunity to participate in the performance of federal contracts and subcontracts. The bill will also require that United States government agencies adopt policies ensuring such businesses are offered a procurement advantage.There are currently over 9.4 million Americans living with severe mental and physical disabilities. This bill will offer them an equal opportunity to find competitive work. If passed, this bill will also save American tax dollars. In fact, the government could save over $45 billion dollars over the next ten years, by gainfully employing those who currently live off of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This event was just the first step in what Senators Kennedy and Roberts’s long term goal of improving the disabled employment rate. ###