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photo of Eliot L. Engel2008 Questionnaire response from:
Eliot L. Engel, candidate for Congress (17th Congressional District, Bronx/Westchester/Rockland)

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Candidate Name: Eliot L. Engel

Candidate for Congressional District: 17


Campaign Name: Engel for Congress

Campaign Address: P.O. Box 60, Bronx, NY 10463-0060

If you have a campaign office, is it wheelchair accessible? Yes

If you are an incumbent, is your district office wheelchair accessible? Yes (all 3)

Campaign Manager: Bill Weitz

Phone: 718 - 601 - 8768

Fax: 718 - 601 - 8795

Email: BillWeitz @

Previous elected offices held: New York State Assembly Member, Incumbent


Key endorsements:

  • Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club
  • Mt. Vernon Democrats
  • Yonkers Democrats
  • Sierra Club
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Rockland Democrats

Labor: No major labor groups have given endorsements as yet but Rep. Engel has been endorsed in past campaigns by the AFL-CIO and by dozens of labor organizations.



  1. Action Shows Commitment


    1. While in public office/prior to this campaign, what have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?



      I was a cosponsor of the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 and am a cosponsor of H.R. 3195, the ADA Amendments Act which will restore the original intent of Congress to provide broader protection against discrimination in the workplace for people with disabilities and also make the elements of everyday life more accessible.

      As a former school teacher, I have consistently supported full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). When NCLB was first presented to the Congress, I supported the legislation because of certain assurances which were made by the President that the law would be fully funded. To date, NCLB has never been even close to fully funded meaning we are not giving our schools the resources needed to succeed. I have also always supported reauthorization legislation that will fully fund IDEA so that special-needs children are guaranteed a free public education in the "least restrictive environment." When IDEA was first passed, the federal government assured states and localities that it would fund 40% of the cost of IDEA, currently the federal government has funded IDEA at 17%.

      I secured a grant of over $575,000 through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Shelter Plus Care Program, for the Yonkers Municipal Housing Authority. The Shelter Plus Care Program provides housing and supportive services on a long-term basis for homeless persons with disabilities - primarily those with serious mental illness, chronic problems with alcohol and/or drugs, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or related diseases. I regularly support groups who are seeking grants to help persons with disabilities.


    2. Will you commit to only attend and/or sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities (PWDs) including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible?



      All my events are in places that are handicapped accessible and every effort is made to provide alternate formats and any other assistance to aid people with disabilities.


  2. General Questions:


    1. What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities in your personal life and in the workplace?



      I have known and worked with many people with disabilities during my 30 years of public services. Closest to me is my friend Lew Goldstein who in midlife lost most of his hearing. He struggled with it on a daily basis, but never let it defeat him, and his example continues to inspire me. I am also proud to be a leader in fighting for the disabled to have access to new technologies. I cosponsored an amendment to require all Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) providers to make their service compatible for people with disabilities in the same manner that traditional telephone companies must.


    2. Are you willing to hire and to provide reasonable accommodation (e.g. flex or part time) for staff members with disabilities?



      Yes, over the past 20 years in Congress I have been willing to hire staff members with disabilities and have never discriminated against a potential employee due to their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, or because of a disability.


    3. How will you work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the Congress and what will be your strategy?



      I have an open door policy in each of my congressional offices. My constituents know that they are always welcome to contact me or my staff in person, over the phone or by correspondence. Due to the input of so many people in the disability community, I have consistently co-sponsored and voted for bills that will provide a more level playing field for those with special needs.


  3. Legislation


    1. The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Fairness Act would permit parents and guardians who successfully bring an action or proceeding which enforces IDEA to be awarded expert witness fees and certain other expenses. Will you sponsor this legislation?



      I have consistently supported full funding of IDEA and will continue to do so in the future. I did not support the final version of H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, because the President forced major funding cuts to important government programs such IDEA. Since this landmark law was enacted in 1975, IDEA has enabled children with disabilities to make great strides with their education and has helped to improve their lives.


    2. The ADA Restoration Act seeks to reassert the original intent of Congress after much weakening by Federal judges appointed by both Presidents Bush. Will you sponsor this legislation?



      I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 3195, the ADA Restoration Act and it received my full support during a vote in the full House where it passed 402-17 on June 26, 2008. It has now been referred to the U.S. Senate. I have always worked to ensure that Americans with disabilities are treated equally under the law. In fact, I was a cosponsor of the original ADA bill in 1990.


    3. The proposed Community Choice Act would allow persons with disabilities and older Americans equal access to community-based attendant supports rather than nursing home placement. Will you sponsor this legislation?



      Yes, I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 1621, the Community Choice Act of 2007.


    4. The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would help individuals with functional impairments and their families to pay for services and supports they need to maximize functionality and independence and have choices about community participation, education and employment. Will you sponsor this legislation?



      Yes, as a senior member of the House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee, I will support this legislation.


    5. The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act would require equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans. Will you sponsor this legislation?



      Yes, I am an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health & Addiction Equity Act of 2007. With my support, it passed the House of Representatives on March 5, 2008. I am hopeful that the House and Senate will work expeditiously to conference each chamber's version of the bill.


    6. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act would enhance and further research into paralysis and the quality of life for persons living with paralysis and other physical disabilities. Will you sponsor this legislation?



      Yes, I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 1727, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act of 2007. With my support, it passed the House of Representatives on October 15, 2007. It is currently awaiting action by the U.S. Senate.


Date: July 7, 2008


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For other candidates running for Congress positions, go to the Questionnaires section



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