AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 19, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  September 19, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 38
  
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Combating Autism Reauthorization Act
The House of Representatives will vote tomorrow, September 20, on its version of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2005).  It will use a fast-track procedure that requires two-thirds of members present to vote for the bill.  Although the Senate bill (S. 1094) was passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the full Senate is expected to wait until the House acts and then pass the House bill through a similar fast-track procedure.  The House and Senate bills are identical. Additionally, the continuing resolution being considered in the House (see FY 2012 Appropriations below) contains language to maintain funding for activities under the Combating Autism Act until November 18 in case Congress does not pass the reauthorization bill before September 30 - the day the original law expires.  See AUCD's alert on the
Action Center to contact your members of Congress.  A sample letter and phone number are provided.  The Action Center also allows visitors to see if their Members are co-sponsors (select "Current Legislation").  There are currently 87 bipartisan co-sponsors of H.R. 2005 and 36 for S. 1094.  For more information, email Kim Musheno at kmusheno@aucd.org.

Medicaid
This week, AUCD is proud to be among over 50 disability, aging and civil rights groups that are co-sponsoring "My Medicaid Matters" - a rally in support of protecting Medicaid-funded programs.  At noon on Wednesday, September 21, over 1,000 supporters are expected to gather at the Capitol to convey the message "My Medicaid Matters".  In addition to the DC rally, local demonstrations are scheduled in California, Kansas, Illinois, Montana, Ohio and Texas.  Organizers hope to have an impact on the budget negotiations currently underway by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which can consider reforms to entitlement programs like Medicaid in developing deficit reduction strategies.  

FY 2012 Appropriations
The House will take up a continuing resolution (CR) later in the week to keep federal government programs running through the start of the new fiscal year beginning on October 1.  The bill extends funding until November 18 at a total discretionary level of $1.043 trillion, as established by the Budget Control Act.  The cap is almost $7 billion less than FY 2011 levels, so funding provided in the CR is 1.4 percent less than current levels.  The CR also contains language to continue programs funded by the Combating Autism Act (see above).  Meanwhile, the Senate will continue work on its FY 2012 appropriations bills with two scheduled markups.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its draft bill on Tuesday.  Congressional leaders have said they hope to finish 2012 appropriations before the CR expires on November 18. 

Deficit Reduction & Jobs
The Joint Select Deficit Reduction Committee launched its website, deficitreduction.gov, last week.  It will post materials and transcripts from its hearings on the website in an effort to work in an open and transparent manner.  The Committee held its first private meeting last week, and will hold a hearing on revenue options and tax reform on Thursday. 

Last week, President Obama submitted to Congress the American Jobs Act (S. 1594, fact sheet), a bill to stimulate job growth.  Today he unveiled a plan for economic growth and deficit reduction detailing how to pay for the $447 billion bill while also paying down the nation's debt over time.  According to the summary related to health care, the President's plan would find $73 billion in Medicaid savings over ten years through increased flexibility for optional beneficiaries, reduced provider taxes, administrative oversight and reduced fraud and abuse.  The Prevention and Public Health Fund (created by the Affordable Care Act) would continue to grow, but be capped at $1.5 billion, a 25 percent cut from its expected maximum amount of $2 billion in FY 2015.  The President sent the plan to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction as it works to find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.

Employment
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a roundtable Thursday on employment.  The roundtable was one in a series sponsored by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) designed to help the Committee identify barriers and policy solutions to the high unemployment rate for people with the most significant disabilities.  Several disability advocates and business people testified at the hearing. An archived webcast can be accessed on the committee website.  Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Tom Harkin have been working on draft legislation to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.  However, with Congress so preoccupied with reducing the debt and deficit and partisan politics, it appears that the legislation may be stalled for now.

Education
The House passed Tuesday the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 2218).  The bill aims to expand successful charter schools by streamlining and funding the Charter School Program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for the next five years.  It is the first of three education reform bills introduced by Republican lawmakers to gain bipartisan support and reach the House floor.

Restraint & Seclusion in Schools
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, hopes to introduce a bill soon to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.  The bill will be similar to the Keeping All Students Safe Act (
H.R. 1381) introduced by Representative George Miller (D-CA) earlier this year.  Although the House bill has bipartisan support, the Education and Workforce Committee Chaired by Representative John Kline (R-MN) has not scheduled a markup.  AUCD is working with other advocates to educate members of Congress about the need for a federal response to this dangerous problem.  For more information, visit AUCD's Restraint & Seclusion policy page or read AUCD's fact sheet on this issue.   

 

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

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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