AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 14, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
   July 14, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 28
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House is expected to vote on a bill to temporarily fix a funding shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund and appropriations for Financial Services.


Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has publically announced that, despite strongly pushing for regular order in appropriations, she is now seeking to move an omnibus package of bills for the remainder of FY15 funding legislation. Some on Capitol Hill also acknowledge that a continuing resolution or other stopgap funding measure may be necessary if Congress cannot pass all individual or omnibus bills before October 1.

Disability Treaty (CRPD)

AUCD continues to advocate for the ratification of the Disability Treaty (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD) and negotiations in the Senate are at a critical stage. CRPD is an international human rights treaty that promotes greater access to education, employment, community living and civic participation for people with disabilities worldwide. AUCD has been organizing grassroots call in key states and encourages all network members to contact their Senators and educate them about why this treaty is important. Advocates are hoping that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will schedule a markup of the treaty before the August recess. For more information, talking points, and a link to sample letters, please visit the  For history, background, and profiles of targeted senators, visit We Can Do This if We Try. Follow on Twitter via #CRPD or #DisabilityTreaty.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

On July 9, the House of Representatives approved the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (HR 803) by a strong bipartisan vote of 415-6. The bill reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act and increases employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The bill is identical to the version passed by the Senate on June 25 and now will go to the President for his signature. AUCD strongly supports the legislation and is pleased to see Congress moving forward on promoting job opportunities for people with disabilities and modernizing federal job training programs. The President has indicated that he will sign it. See AUCD statement and a preliminary summary of the bill.

Autism CARES Act

The Senate is expected to take up the Autism CARES Act before the August recess. The House of Representatives passed the bill (HR 4631) on June 24. On the next day, June 25 the Senate HELP Committee approved the bill (S 2449) by a voice vote, sending it straight to the floor under a unanimous consent agreement. Unfortunately, several Senators asked for time to review the bill, so the process was delayed. While the key sponsors assure us that the bill will be considered soon, AUCD urges network members and allies to contact Senators to ensure that they understand the importance of this legislation. See AUCD's action center for more information (and AUCD press release). Please also thank your Representative is h/she is one of the 86 sponsors of the House bill or the 10 co-sponsors of the Senate bill.

Community Living

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance on person-centered planning and self-direction, in accordance with section 2402 of the Affordable Care Act. The guidance lays out standards on person-centered planning and self-direction that should be embedded in all HHS-funded home and community-based services (HCBS) programs. This guidance is consistent with the new rule regarding the settings of HCBS released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this year. Read more on the Administration for Community Living blog.

Avonte's Law

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced Avonte's Law (S. 2386), a bill in response to the death of Avonte Oquendo, a New York City boy with autism whose remains were found last month after he disappeared from his school in October. The bill creates a grant program for local law enforcement agencies to provide optional electronic tracking devices for children who wander or elope. It also includes funding to train school staff, clinicians, and the public on how to prevent wandering and funding for law enforcement on how to "recognize and respond to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities."  Tracking resources could also include reverse 911 and assistive communication, and the program would required the Department of Justice would be responsible for issuing standards regarding privacy of location data and how to use the devices as the "least restrictive alternative" for preventing injury or death. AUCD supports this bill.  Sen. Schumer is now seeking a Republican co-sponsor for the bill.  For more information, or to provide comments, please contact Kim Musheno.

Higher Education

Last week the House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up three bills related to higher education as part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, none of which specifically deal with students with disabilities. For more information about these three bills, including fact sheets, see the committee's website:  Last week Senator Harkin released a draft bill to reauthorize the HEA that includes new provisions to assist students with disabilities.  See last week's In Brief for a link to the draft bill.  Please provide any feedback to Kim Musheno by mid-August.

Six by '15

Help spread the word about the Six by '15 campaign ( by joining the #6by15 ADA Anniversary Thunderclap. Thunderclap is a social media tool to amplify messages. Join the campaign and support the Thunderclap on the Six by '15 blog.

Administration Appointments

The White House has announced that Taryn Williams will be the new Associate Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement and liaison to the disability community.  Ms. Williams is on detail from the Department of Labor, where she serves as a Senior Policy Advisor with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) working on issues related to workforce development, education, Medicaid, Social Security, and transition outcomes of youth with significant disabilities. Prior to joining ODEP, Taryn was Research Coordinator for Leadership Programs at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) and Director of Programs at the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) headquartered in Chicago. Taryn, who has lived with ulcerative colitis since the age of 5, is a proud supporter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

The Senate has confirmed Shaun Donovan, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by a vote of 75-22. The Senate also confirmed Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, to replace Donovan by a vote of 71-26. Sylvia Mathews Burwell was head of OMB before she was tapped to become Secretary of Health and Human Services.


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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:

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