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Molinaro, Crockett Lead Bipartisan Effort To Create More Job Opportunities For Individuals With Disabilities

Molinaro: Full Compliance with the Javits-Wagner O’Day Act Means More Demand for Ability One Products & More Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

Washington, D.C — U.S. Reps. Marc Molinaro (R-NY-19) and Jasmine Crockett (D-TX-30) sent a letter to House Committee on Administration Chairman Brian Steil and Ranking Member Joe Morelle requesting the Committee take steps to increase Legislative Branch procurement through the AbilityOne Commission, including by appointing an AbilityOne Representative (ABOR) tasked with overseeing AbilityOne procurement, by seeing that more is done to promote AbilityOne products in the House Supply Store, and by requiring that data on procurement be released on a regular basis.

Established by the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, the AbilityOne Commission partners with SourceAmerica and National Industries for the Blind to maintain a list of products and services provided by Americans with disabilities that the federal government is required to evaluate before procuring any product or service to see if it meets their needs and procure from the list if so. The Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment (AVRE) in Binghamton, which has provided jobs for the blind for over 100 years, benefits from the program.

On December 11, 2023, Reps. Molinaro and Crockett led a letter to 9 procurement offices within the Legislative Branch asking several questions about how they ensure compliance with Javits-Wagner-O’Day, and how their office could work going forward to maximize procurement from AbilityOne. Over the last three weeks, responses from every office (with the exception of the Chief Administrative Officer) have committed to designating an AbilityOne Representative to serve as liaison with the Commission and promote the program within the office. These offices all also indicated that they are able to collate data on their procurement from AbilityOne, and are open to making that information publicly accessible.

Rep. Molinaro said, “At its core, Ability One is an employment program. Full compliance with the Javits-Wagner O’Day Act means more demand for Ability One products and more opportunities for individuals with disabilities. With the percentage of the disability community not working still at nearly 80%, we need action from all Legislative Branch offices. I’ve been proud to work with Congresswoman Crockett on this bipartisan initiative and will keep pushing until we see progress.”

Rep. Crockett said, “Congress has made a commitment to support full employment opportunity for Americans with disabilities. Today, we are taking an important step in turning words into action. When Congress passed the Javits-Wanger-O’Day Act, it required all federal entities, including Congress, to use our purchasing power to support the employment of Americans with disabilities. For those who already face so many barriers to participation in the workforce, we must honor our commitment that if you want to work, federal procurement contracts ensure work is available. Over the years, the Executive Branch has taken steps to apply the letter of the law into day-to-day procedure with coordination, transparency, and promotion. But, unfortunately, the Legislative Branch has fallen far behind. I am glad to work with my fellow Freshman, Congressman Molinaro, in rekindling this commitment to Americans with disabilities. I so greatly appreciate the many positive responses from procurement offices within Congress committing to increase Congressional procurement through AbilityOne, and hope the House Committee on Administration will promptly respond to our letter seeking the codification of these gains for Americans with disabilities.”

Kevin Lynch, President and CEO of National Industries for the Blind said, “National Industries for the Blind (NIB) applauds all the House members that have led and joined this bipartisan effort to remind the Legislative Branch agencies of their obligation to abide by the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act, and to encourage them to purchase AbilityOne products and services. By utilizing these products and services, these agencies – as well as all congressional offices – help provide rewarding careers for Americans who are blind or who have significant disabilities."