- - Monday, July 26, 2010

CONGRESS

Langevin marks disabilities act

Rep. Jim Langevin, who is paralyzed from the chest down, presided over the House for the first time on Monday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Rhode Island Democrat, who in 2000 was the first quadriplegic elected to the House, used a newly installed mechanical lift system to gain access to the speaker’s podium in his motorized wheelchair.

Mr. Langevin, 46, has used a wheelchair since being paralyzed in a shooting accident as a teen. The disabilities act opened access to public places and employment for people with physical and mental handicaps.

Mr. Langevin said his temporary turn wielding the gavel marks an important step for people with disabilities and he hopes it inspires others.

“What a powerful symbol of inclusion and opportunity for anyone who wants to serve in the United States Congress,” he said in a telephone interview with Associated Press on Monday. Congress has become increasingly accessible in the past decade for people with disabilities, he added.

Mr. Langevin was paralyzed as a 16-year-old Boy Scout cadet working with police in Warwick, R.I. He was in a locker room watching officers examine a gun they thought was unloaded when the weapon accidentally fired. A bullet ricocheted off a metal locker and severed Mr. Langevin’s spinal cord.

The lawmaker recalled lying in a hospital bed after the shooting and wondering what his life would be like from then on.

“I know the inspiration I took from other people and how they overcame their challenges,” said Mr. Langevin, a leading advocate in Congress for people with disabilities.

CONGRESS

Pelosi, McConnell diverge on stimulus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. | House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are giving starkly different assessments of what last year’s $787 billion stimulus package has done amid the deep recession.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, told a gathering of state legislators meeting Monday in Louisville that the stimulus has created or saved as many as 3.6 million jobs so far. She said more jobs will be created in the first eight months of this year than were created in the eight years George W. Bush was president.

Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the stimulus hasn’t prevented the loss of another 2.5 million jobs. He says the stimulus is an example of congressional Democrats centralizing power in Washington at the expense of states.

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