Although the bill failed to gain traction in past Congresses, it appears to have real legs heading into the fall. A Senate Democratic aide explained that although the concept has always been popular, it has taken years for advocates to get momentum for an issue that isn't particularly timely.
But heading into the August recess, the Able Act now has an astonishing 366 cosponsors in the House and 76 in the Senate and is very likely to pass this fall. Both House and Senate leadership have already committed to bringing the bill to the floor in their respective chambers and are aiming for September votes, according to the Senate Democratic aide. That timeline would provide Congress with one last kumbaya moment before all hell breaks loose in the November midterm elections.
"No other bill in Congress has this level of bipartisan and bicameral support," Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., the lead sponsor in the Senate, said Wednesday, during a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, which he chairs.
"That's more than bipartisan, that's outstanding around here," added Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the subcommittee's ranking member. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., a fellow subcommittee member and cosponsor of the bill, said he couldn't think of a reason that any member "would want to get in the way of this bill" at this point.
The Able Act could still be held up, however. Fights over amendments have derailed popular legislation in the Senate several times already this Congress. But with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell already signed on as cosponsors, advocates are optimistic that they'll avoid a floor fight.