AUCD Legislative News In Brief

May 7, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  May 7, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 18
  
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Congressional Schedule
Congress returns from recess to a busy schedule this week. The House will vote today on two budget bills that would incorporate cuts made by the House Republican budget resolution (see Budget & Appropriations).  On Thursday, AUCD staff will attend a White House briefing on college affordability with Vice President Joe Biden and other senior White House officials.

Budget
The House Budget Committee passed two related bills today, one that would "turn off" the automatic cuts (sequester) for most, but not all, of federal discretionary programs.  The second is a "budget reconciliation" bill that would incorporate $300 billion in cuts made by the budget resolution written by Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).  The full House is expected to pass a bill that combines the two measures on May 10.  AUCD strongly opposes these bills as they would make drastic cuts to social services programs, including food assistance programs and a total elimination of the $1.7 billion Social Services Block Grant that provides respite care, money for child abuse prevention, and child care assistance to allow people to go to work.  The bills would also eliminate recently enacted provisions within the Affordable Care Act - including the Prevention and Public Health Fund - that would provide tremendous health and wellness benefits to everyone, but especially to vulnerable populations that are currently denied health care or experience huge disparities in the health care system.  The main objective of these cuts, according to statements by Chairman Ryan, is to avoid cuts to defense spending (see
Ryan statement on proposal).  During debate, ranking minority member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), pointed out that the Budget Control Act was designed specifically to avoid drastic cuts to programs that protect vulnerable populations (see press release).  Because the Senate is opposed to the House approach, it is unlikely that the House and Senate will come to agreement on a budget or on appropriations bills before the November elections.

Prevention and Public Health Fund
With federal student loan interest rates set to double this summer, lawmakers are battling over how to offset the cost of extending the current low rates.  On April 27, the House passed a bill (H.R. 4628) that would pay for the extension using $6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act.  A Republican bill in the Senate (S. 2366) takes the same approach, while a Democratic bill (S. 2343) would pay for the extension by closing a corporate tax loophole.  The Fund was designed to provide states and communities with new funding for transformational investments to promote wellness, prevent disease and help people manage health conditions.  The Senate will vote tomorrow on a motion to end debate and proceed to the Democratic measure and possibly the Republican alternative.  Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has asked other Senators to sign onto a "dear colleague" letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposing cuts to the Fund.

ADA Rules on Pool Accessibility
Representative John Carter (R-TX) has introduced an amendment to the Commerce-Science-Justice FY 2013 appropriations bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to enforce accessibility standards for pools, both for new construction and existing pools.  This is the latest challenge to DOJ accessibility standards regarding pools, which have been met with extreme resistance by the hotel industry due to misunderstandings about what the regulations require and the "readily achievable" standard that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to ensure reasonable enforcement. (See last week's In Brief for more information.)  The House is expected to vote on the bill this week.  The disability community opposes the amendment and is concerned that, if passed, it would set a dangerous precedent that could chip away at other ADA protections, including the Olmstead decision.  AUCD issued an action alert urging Representatives to oppose the Carter amendment.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to see the alert and talking points and to contact your Representative.

Lifespan Respite
AUCD joined 35 national organizations in signing
letters to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees urging Congress to support lifespan respite programs.  The letters call for necessary funding in the FY 2013 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for respite and other critical support programs that provide a safety net for family caregivers across the lifespan.  The letter requests $5 million for the Lifespan Respite Care Program and also seeks support for the National Family Caregiver Support Program ($154 million) and the Native American Caregiver Support Program ($6 million).  You can find the letters and more lifespan respite resources on AUCD's family support page.

Family Support Resource
The Administration on Developmental Disabilities recently published a new report on the issue of supporting families:
Building a National Agenda for Supporting Families with an Individual with Developmental or Intellectual Disabilities. This report emerged from a group of diverse national and state disability leaders who met at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin, in January 2011.  AUCD's Family Support Special Interest Group was very involved in the conference planning. The conference goal was to develop public policies and other strategies at the state and federal level for building an infrastructure for supporting families of people with developmental and other disabilities.

Affordable Care Act: Get the Facts
AUCD offers facts about the law and its implementation in this new section of In Brief. 

Save the Date: National Forum on Disability Issues
AUCD is part of the forum planning committee for the 2012 National Forum on Disability Issues on Friday, September 28th at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio.  This event is a non-partisan forum where presidential candidates are scheduled to offer their visions of policy that affect people with disabilities.  Among the 2012 invitees are President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  The forum will be webcast live providing the opportunity for everyone to learn about the candidates' views on disability issues. If you cannot make it to Columbus, Ohio, please organize a watch party.  For general information on the forum contact Sue Hetrick with Ability Center (
shetrick@abilitycenter.org).  A formal announcement will be distributed this week!

 

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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