AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 21, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
   July 21, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 29
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House is scheduled to vote on bills related to human trafficking and higher education. The Senate is expected to work on shoring up the Highway Trust Fund. 


AUCD staff joined with other members of the Coalition for Health Funding on Hill visits with members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to discuss the impact of sequestration, continued flat funding, and budget cuts on public health programs.  The coalition just released an update to the Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Hurt America's Health (available at which provides a closer look at the impact of budget cuts across the public health continuum. The report includes examples of cuts to health care access, research, threat detection & response, and workforce training.

During these Hill meetings, appropriations staff confirmed the likelihood that a government-wide continuing resolution (CR) will be necessary to keep government programs running through the new fiscal year starting October 1.  Due to the tight discretionary spending caps and partisan gridlock, none of the 12 annual spending bills have been enacted. The Labor, HHS, Education spending bill was marked up by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee earlier this year; the House has not scheduled committee consideration for this largest of the 12 annual spending bills. AUCD has been advocating for appropriators to move the funding bills under regular order or at least to work on an omnibus bill that carefully considers spending decisions within the spending caps as opposed to a year-long CR that would trigger across-the-board cuts (sequestration).

Autism CARES Act

The Autism CARES Act (S. 2449) is still being held for consideration by an unknown member of the Senate. The law has helped to expand research and coordination at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), increase public awareness and surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and expand interdisciplinary and inter-professional training of health professionals (such as LEND programs) to identify and support children and youth with ASD and their families through programs of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This law will expire by September 30 if it is not reauthorized.  There are very few legislative days left in this Congress. Network members are encouraged to contact their Senators and urge them to please pass the CARES Act before the August recess. Please see AUCD summary and current status for more information.

Autism Bulletin from CMS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued an informational bulletin regarding coverage of services for children and youth with autism in the Medicaid program. The bulletin clarifies that therapies should be covered under the Early and Periodic Screening, Treatment, and Diagnosis (EPSDT) services of the Medicaid State Plan. This guidance is intended to clarify existing law and ensure that children with ASD are getting the services they need.


The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight has scheduled a hearing on the ABLE Act for Wednesday, July 23. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act would create tax preferred savings accounts for people with disabilities while preserving access to public benefits. The ABLE Act (S. 313/H.R. 647) has very strong bipartisan support with 75 co-sponsors in the Senate and 365 co-sponsors in the House. Witnesses include Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Chair of the House Republican Caucus and mother of a son with Down syndrome; Sarah Wolfe, a self-advocate from Pennsylvania and board member of the National Down Syndrome Society; and other advocates.

Disability Treaty

Senator Bob Menendez, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a markup for July 22 for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The hearing will be held in the Capitol building and not open to the public. Republican leaders on the treaty, including Senators Ayotte (NH), Kirk (IL), Barrasso (WY), and McCain (AZ) have been negotiating with their colleagues to get support of 2/3 of the Senators present necessary to ratify the treaty before the end of this Congress.  AUCD is hopeful that the Committee will approve the treaty.  It will then be up to Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to schedule consideration by the full Senate, hopefully next week before the August recess.  AUCD has been organizing grassroots calls to help educate targeted Senators to support the treaty. For more information and ways to support the Treaty, visit and follow on Twitter under hashtag #CRPD and #DisabilityTreaty.

Social Security Disability Insurance

On Thursday, July 24 the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Social Security Disability Insurance. This hearing is the first by this committee in seven years on the SSDI program. Witnesses include Steven Goss, Chief Actuary for the Social Security Administration; Marianna LaCanfora, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Retirement and Disability Policy for the Social Security Administration; Rebecca Vallas of the Center for American Progress; and Richard Burkhauser of Cornell University and the American Enterprise Institute. The recently released Long-Term Budget Outlook from the Congressional Budget Office (see also below) projects that the SSDI trust fund will be exhausted and unable to pay full scheduled benefits in FY 2017. Congressional action to address the trust fund shortfall will be required before that date. To learn more, see this just released SSDI Chart Book from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Federal Budget

The Congressional Budget Office has released its regular Long-Term Budget Outlook. The economy's gradual recovery from the 2007-2009 recession, the waning budgetary effects of policies enacted in response to the weak economy, and other changes to tax and spending laws have caused the deficit to shrink this year to its smallest size since 2007 at about 3 percent of GDP. However, starting in 2018 CBO projects rising U.S. debt, mostly due to increases in health care costs and demographic changes. 

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.


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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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