AUCD Legislative News In Brief

December 6, 2010

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  December 6, 2010   |  Vol. X, Issue 49
  
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Congressional Schedule
Even after holding a weekend session, the Senate faces a packed schedule this week as it continues to try to resolve the issues of expiring tax cuts and how to proceed on the FY 2011 appropriations bills.  Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to hold a procedural vote on a bill (S. 3985) that would provide a one-time payment of $250 to Social Security recipients who have not received cost-of-living increases.  However, all of the Senate's 42 Republicans have signed a letter vowing not to vote to bring up any other matters until Congress deals with the tax cuts and appropriations. 

Appropriations
President Obama signed into law a second short-term FY 2011 continuing resolution (CR) Saturday, keeping the federal government operating until December 18.  The extension provides appropriators more time to try to finalize an FY 2011 funding plan.  Congress has not passed any of the 12 regular appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began October 1.  At this time, both the vehicle for moving forward and the level of spending that will be contained in any FY 2011 appropriations measure remains uncertain.  Congressional appropriators have continued to work on both an omnibus package that would include all 12 spending bills and a year-long CR that would keep the government operating largely at FY 2010 levels.  The House is expected to pass a year-long CR within the coming days, and Senate Majority Leader Reid is then expected to offer an omnibus package as a substitute amendment to that legislation.  Senate Democrats will need to attract Republican votes to get the 60 votes necessary to pass an omnibus, which could be difficult.  Republicans have warned that any omnibus bill should be relatively free of policy changes in order to gain bipartisan support.  AUCD is advocating for Congress to negotiate a final Labor, HHS, Education funding bill based on those passed by the House and Senate Committees earlier this year that contain important increases for programs important to people with disabilities and their families.

Fiscal Commission
The bipartisan, 18-member
National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released its final recommendations Wednesday.  The report, entitled "The Moment of Truth", is similar to the draft proposal released by the commission co-chairs on November 10.  The report proposes a six-part plan that will "achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020, reduce the deficit by 2.3 percent of GDP by 2015, reduce tax rates, cap revenue at 21 percent of GDP, ensure lasting Social Security solvency, and stabilize debt by 2014."  Although the Commission's vote on the report failed (11-7) to garner the 14 votes needed to trigger Congressional consideration of the proposals, it is likely to be used as a blueprint for the President's budget proposal and deficit cutting proposals in the 112th Congress.  Among other things, the report recommends more than $200 billion in discretionary cuts, eliminating the recently enacted CLASS Act, and reducing the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 54 million people now receiving Social Security.  The recommendations do not include any specific cuts to the National Institutes of Health.  The report recommends investments in "high-value research and development to help keep our economy growing, keep us globally competitive, and make it easier for businesses to create jobs."

Tax Cuts
The Senate held a special session this weekend to address the soon-to-expire tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003.  Democrats insist that the tax cuts should be extended permanently, but only for couples earning less than $250,000 and individuals earning less than $200,000 a year.  Republicans maintain that the tax cuts should be extended for those with higher incomes as well, at least temporarily.  With the cuts expiring December 31 and Republicans holding more seats in Congress come January, political posturing is increasing.  Democrats held two failed procedural votes on their proposals Saturday, but those votes were largely symbolic.  There are indications that President Obama might end up endorsing a temporary extension of all the tax cuts if Republicans agree to extend expiring unemployment insurance benefits and pass an omnibus appropriations bill.  Republicans, however, continue to insist that an unemployment extension be fully paid for, an argument that is a non-starter for Democrats.

Child Abuse Prevention
The Senate passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010 (S.3817) late Friday by unanimous consent!  The House appears inclined to go forward with passage of the bill, and House and Senate staff are working together to ensure a quick process.  The bill extends CAPTA funding through 2015 and includes strengthened provisions related to primary prevention activities and data collection on the nexus between child abuse and disability.  AUCD is hopeful that the bill will be signed into law before the end of the year.

State of the American Child
AUCD staff attended a press conference sponsored by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) announcing
The State of the American Child, a report authored by the Senator synthesizing the findings from a series of hearings about the barriers children face today and outlining key policies that need to be implemented to improve their well-being.  Dodd also announced a new partnership between two major child advocacy organizations, Save the Children (based in Connecticut and headed by Mark Shriver) and First Focus (based in Washington, DC), to develop an annual report card on the state of American children.  The report card will provide benchmarks to children's progress and identify areas of policy concern.  Senators Dodd and Bob Casey (D-PA) recently introduced the Children's Act of 2010 which would establish a National Council on Children that would be responsible for annually assessing the state of American children's health, education and overall well-being, and would be tasked with making recommendations to Congress on how to improve policies that impact children's lives.

Disability Policy Seminar: New Champions Needed!
Register for the 2011 Disability Policy Seminar today at www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org!  Pre-register by January 11.  Make hotel reservations by Jan. 11 online or call 1-888-421-1442. The Seminar takes place February 14-16 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC.  This two and one-half day event is chock full of information you can use to be a better advocate for yourself or the people and programs you may represent.  Join with hundreds of disability advocates from around the country at the Seminar to discuss a wide range of public policy issues affecting people with disabilities and their families.  It is so important for AUCD network members to come to this particular event since there over 100 new Members of the new 112th Congress resulting from the Nov. 4 elections.  For more information, see the seminar event page or email kmusheno@aucd.org.

 

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=164

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