AUCD Legislative News In Brief

November 4, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  November 4, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 44
  
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Congressional Schedule

The Senate is in session this week, working on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, a bill to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The House is in recess until November 12.

Budget/Appropriations

The budget conference committee created by the October 16 deal to raise the debt ceiling and re-open the federal government (see October 21 In Brief) met for the first time last week. Each of the 29 members had a chance to read their opening statements and discuss their priorities (for committee members see last week's In Brief). The committee has until December 13 to reach an agreement on a concurrent budget resolution. If approved, the resolution will set the topline spending figure for the negotiations that must occur before the continuing resolution expires January 15. Most reports agree that the conference committee will not produce a "grand bargain" on the nation's long-term fiscal policy, but may instead deal with sequestration and small-scale tax reform. The second round of sequestration cuts are scheduled to begin January 15, the same day that the continuing resolution expires. AUCD staff and other leaders of the CCD Fiscal Policy and Long Term Services and Supports Task Forces are meeting with staff of the conference committee to urge them to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not harm programs that support people with disabilities in the community.

Disability Treaty

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold the first of two hearings to on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The hearing will be streamed live on the committee website starting at 2:30pm. Witnesses supporting the treaty include Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-WI), Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) (reading a statement from former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS)) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), former Secretary of Homeland Security and current Chairman of the National Organization on Disability Tom Ridge, and former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. Witnesses opposing the treaty will be Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, Susan Yoshihara of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, and University of Georgia Assistant Professor of Law Timothy Meyer.

Disability and veterans advocates, including AUCD's Executive Director Andy Imparato, met last week with Vice President Joe Biden and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett to discuss the treaty (see more on the White House blog). AUCD helped to organize a call in day today to urge key members of the Foreign Relations Committee to support the treaty. If you have made calls, please let us know by emailing kmusheno@aucd.org. Thank you!

Affordable Care Act

The House held two hearings last week on the implementation of the federally-facilitated Health Insurance Marketplaces at www.HealthCare.gov as part of the Affordable Care Act. On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony from Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. On Wednesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius appeared before the House Energy and Commerce committee. Both Sebelius and Tavenner apologized for the problems with the federal website.  Both were grilled by members of Congress on current enrollment numbers, contractors, decisions the administration made in launching the website, and recent cancellation of insurance policies that do not meet the coverage rules taking effect January 1, 2014. Video of the Energy and Commerce hearing with Secretary Sebelius is available on the committee's website. On Sunday, The Washington Post ran a long front page story on how politics impacted implementation decisions inside the administration. The administration has promised that the problems with HealthCare.gov will be fixed by the end of November.

Older Americans Act

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee passed the Older Americans Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 1562) without amendment. Senator Burr (R-NC) offered an amendment to change the funding formula for Older Americans Act programs. The amendment was defeated but Senator Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the committee, pledged to create a bipartisan working group to explore the issue.

Farm Bill

The conference committee convened to iron out differences in the House and Senate-passed versions of the farm bill met for the first time last week. The House Farm Bill includes over $40 billion/10 years in cuts to SNAP, the Senate version includes $4 billion/10 years in cuts. The House proposal would have a devastating impact on the lives of people with disabilities by reducing the resources they have to meet even their very basic nutritional needs. Approximately 28 percent of individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 are living in poverty, and they often have the most difficulty accessing and maintaining their benefits due to physical barriers and/or mental impairment. While AUCD opposes any cuts to SNAP, AUCD sent a letter to the House and Senate conferees urging them to at least maintain the Senate's position on funding for SNAP.

National Children's Study

The continuing resolution passed in March of this year required that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the study design for the National Children's Study (NCS) after the National Institutes of Health proposed changing the study from household-based to provider-based recruitment. The IOM committee on "Design of the National Children's Study and Implications for the Generalizability of Results" has produced a report in August on proposed changes and met again in October. The NCS, authorized by Congress in 2000, aims to be a national longitudinal study of 100,000 children from conception to age 21. The goal of the study is to determine the impact of environmental factors on the health and development of children.

Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee passed the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education Support Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 1557). The House of Representatives passed a bill to reauthorize the same program in February of this year (H.R. 297). The Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education program provides funding to children's hospitals to support pediatric residency and fellowship positions.

Social Security

The Social Security Administration has announced a 1.5% cost-of-living benefit increase for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries in 2014. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is based on an estimate of inflation produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

Federal Disability Policy

The National Council on Disability has released its annual survey of Federal disability policy called "Strength in Our Differences" The NCD sought input from across the disability community to report on the progress made in achieving equal opportunity and full participation for Americans with disabilities. It reports on federal disability policy advancements made from August 2012 to September 2013 and identifies areas where changes in public policy and additional steps are needed.

AUCD Annual Meeting

Registration closed on Friday for AUCD's Annual Meeting, but registration will still be available on-site. If you are in the DC area, the closing plenary on Wednesday, November 20 - "Federal Initiatives to Promote Diversity, Reduce Discrimination, and Address Disparities" - will be free and open to the public. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative James Langevin (D-RI) have been invited to speak on the Disability Treaty and activities of the Bipartisan Congressional Disabilities Caucus. The plenary session also will include panel discussions from Chai Feldblum, Commissioner of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the Department of Labor; Rebecca Bond, Chief of the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice; and Vince Campbell, Associate Director for Disability Inclusion and Public Health at CDC.

 

For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews

For updates from our new Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD

For more policy news, follow Kim and Rachel on Twitter at @kmusheno and @racheljpat

 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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