AUCD Legislative News InBrief

January 28, 2008

Congressional Schedule

President Bush will deliver his final State of the Union Address tonight.  He is expected to call for Congress to pass an economic stimulus package and earmark reform.  His address will likely also include calls for long-term extension his first-term tax cuts and the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.     

 

Economic Stimulus

Last week House leaders and the Administration announced a deal on a $145 billion economic stimulus package.  The package primarily includes tax rebates for individuals/couples and tax breaks for businesses.  The package does not include unemployment insurance extensions, money for food stamps, infrastructure spending, state fiscal assistance, or a temporary FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage - the federal share of Medicaid spending).  AUCD has participated in a diverse coalition of organizations, including the National Governors Association (NGA), advocating for inclusion of the FMAP increase.  The Senate Finance Committee will consider changes to the package this week.  AUCD signed onto coalition letters asking the Finance Committee to include the FMAP increase.  AUCD has also helped gain support for a "Dear Colleague" letter currently being circulated by Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Collins (R-ME) asking the Finance committee to include the FMAP increase. 

         

SCHIP

Last week the House attempted to override the second Presidential veto on SCHIP expansion (HR 3963).  The vote was 160-152, again approximately 15 votes short of the needed two-thirds majority.  An override was not expected.  Congress passed a stop-gap measure in December to continue the program with additional funding to maintain currently enrollment until March 2009, after the Presidential election.  The proposed expansion of approximately $35 billion above baseline over 5 years would have covered 10 million children, approximately 4 million additional uninsured children.  Democrats continue to push for expansion and are making new arguments in light of the downturn in economy.  The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing this week on SCHIP and uninsured children.       

 

Education

AUCD staff attended a full House Education and Labor Committee hearing on "Investing in Early Education: Paths to Improving Children's Success." Witnesses urged Congress to expand high-quality opportunities for all children. Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who chaired the hearing, introduced H.R.3289, the Providing Resources Early for Kids Act of 2007 or the PRE-K Act. The bill amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (NCLB) to direct the Secretary of Education to award matching grants to states to enhance or improve state-funded preschool programs. The bill currently has 44 cosponsors. The hearing and testimony can be accessed on the committee's web page (click here).

 

ADA Restoration Act

A House hearing on the ADA Restoration Act of 2007 (H.R. 3195) is scheduled for Jan. 29 in the Education and Labor Committee. The bill currently has 244 cosponsors, including 51 Republicans. Because the bill shares jurisdiction with several committees attaining as many co-sponsors as possible will help with passage. The Senate bill (S. 1881) only has 2 cosponsors.  Through the AUCD Action Center you can see if your members of Congress have co-sponsored the ADA Restoration Act and send a prepared sample letter thanking them or asking them to become a co-sponsor: AUCD Action Center

Child Abuse Prevention

The Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (CAPTA) (Public Law 108-36) is up for reauthorization (view full text ) this year. The overall goal of CAPTA is to improve and strengthen child protective services, provide resources for prevention of child abuse and neglect, and allow discretionary grants to help advance knowledge through research and program innovations. AUCD is reviewing the law and participating with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the National Child Abuse Coalition to develop recommendations for improvements. AUCD was successful getting provisions in the 2003 reauthorization to strengthen primary prevention activities and to encourage referrals for comprehensive health and developmental screenings of abused children. Please send comments or suggestions to Kim Musheno at kmusheno@aucd.org.

 

Disability Policy Seminar

The Disability Policy Seminar co-sponsored by AUCD, The Arc, UCP, AAIDD and NACDD will be March 2-4 in Washington, DC.  Hill staff and policy experts will discuss a wide range of legislative proposals and outlook for the Second Session of the 110th Congress.  A special Trainee reception is being scheduled for Sunday evening. The deadline to register for the seminar is February 7.  The block of rooms at the conference hotel is now full.  However, there is a list of alternative hotels on the AUCD website: http://www.aucd.org/template/event.cfm?event_id=930&id=379&parent=379.

 

2008 Presidential Election

For more information about where the candidates stand on disability issues visit the AAPD Presidential Action Center: http://www.aapd.com/News/election/peac2008.php.  The Obama Campaign will hold a conference call this Tuesday afternoon to discuss their disability platform.  Call-in information is available on the AAPD website: http://www.aapd.com/News/election/080125sbo.htm

          

Did You Know?

The AUCD Public Policy web page provides valuable election information.  For example, under the Action Center, election and candidates (http://www.aucd.org/template/capwiz.cfm) you can find information on registering, dates of state primaries, locations of polling places, and guidelines for absentee voters. 

 

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website: http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=27