An unusual thing happened in Congress this month: The Senate and the House each passed legislation likely to create a law, with massive bipartisan support.
Sen. Robert P. Casey (D., Pa.), a sponsor of the bill, wound up on the same side as House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress.
The beneficiaries of this cooperation: families facing the lifelong costs of disabling illnesses such as epilepsy or Down syndrome.
If President Obama signs the bill, people with disabilities and their families would soon have the option of creating tax-sheltered savings accounts to help pay for long-term care.
The feel-good moment was five years coming for Casey, who sponsored the Senate version of the so-called ABLE Act, for "Achieving a Better Life Experience."
The measure was rolled into a package that would renew other tax policies and approved Tuesday night by the Senate, 76-16. It passed the House on its own earlier in December.
"It allows children to lead a full life, and it gives their parents peace of mind," Casey said in a recent interview. The bill builds on similar savings accounts that already exist for education or retirement. "It's not some new theory. It works and it makes sense, and that's one of the reasons why you had such broad bipartisan support."
Some have hailed the measure as the first major bill aimed at helping the disabled since 1990's Americans With Disabilities Act.