AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 28, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
   July 28, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 30
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week, the last week before the month-long August recess. The House is scheduled to consider a number of bills, including a bill to reauthorize the Paul D Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments of 2008 (HR 594). Neither chamber is scheduled to vote on any of the appropriations bills for the new fiscal year beginning October 1.


The Senate Appropriations Committee has released the text of the FY 2015 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill adopted by the subcommittee in June and the accompanying committee report. A full committee markup of the bill has not been scheduled and the outlook for full committee consideration is unlikely.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Saturday, July 26th marked the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The White House marked the occasion with a video message from the president. The ADA Legacy Project also kicked off its year-long national tour leading up to the 25th anniversary. Check out more events and commemorations on the Six by '15 blog.

[ President Obama on the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: ]


Disability Treaty

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) last week on a vote of 12-6. Senators Barrasso (R-WY) and McCain (R-AZ) joined all of the democratic members of the committee in voting for the treaty. The committee accepted three amendments to the Reservations, Understandings, and Declarations (RUDs), which are available on the committee website. The three changes that were accepted were all introduced by Senator Barrasso clarify that : 1) nothing in the treaty limits the rights of parents to homeschool their children; 2) nothing in Article 7 of the treaty (related to children with disabilities) requires any changes to U.S. Federal, State, or local laws; and 3) any recommendations provided by the international committee authorized under the treaty are not binding on U.S. laws. The next step is for the treaty to be considered by the full Senate. A 2/3 vote of all those present is required for the treaty to be ratified. AUCD and other advocates have been urging Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to schedule a vote on the treaty before the August recess. AUCD will be participating in a march and rally tomorrow sponsored by the National Council on Independent Living and United States International Council on Disabilities. AUCD network in targeted states have been very involved in efforts to educate those Senators about why the treaty is important to constituents. For more information and to help educate Senators, please visit the In addition, detailed updates, history and profiles of the targeted Senators are available on the We Can Do This if We Try blog.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law last week at a White House signing ceremony. This law will update the nation's workforce training programs and increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. It will also move the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Independent Living and Assistive Technology programs from the Department of Education to the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services. Read more about the moves on the ACL blog, and learn more about the new law with AUCD's summary.

On the same day as the signing, the White House also launched a number of changes to federal workforce training programs. The changes, to take effect October 1, will require all applicants for the 25 competitive job training programs to comply with a "job-driven checklist" that includes providing necessary accommodations to include people with disabilities, working with employers to determine local hiring needs, offering hands-on training like apprenticeships, and measuring employment and earnings outcomes. These changes are the result of an effort led by Vice President Biden, announced during the President's 2014 State of the Union address, to review federal job-training programs.


The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, chaired by Rep. Smith (R-NJ), held a hearing titled "The Global Challenge of Autism" on July 24. Witnesses included representatives from Autism at Work, Initiative, and a company called Specialisterne, working internationally, as well as Autism Speaks and the Autism Society. The focus of the hearing was on supporting individuals with ASD globally in the workforce. Special attention was also paid to the lack of trained health and education professionals in many countries. A video of the hearing and written testimony are available on the committee website.

According to hill staff working on the Autism CARES Act (S. 2449), the Senate is expected to consider the bill under a unanimous consent agreement soon.  While AUCD had hoped that the bill would have been passed and signed into law by now, several senators have asked for more time to review the bill.  The law must be reauthorized before September 30 to prevent authorized activities from expiring. 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.


On Wednesday, July 23, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight held a hearing on the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The ABLE Act would create tax preferred savings accounts for people with disabilities that would promote their financial security without endangering their access to public benefits. The identical House and Senate bills (S. 313/H.R. 647) have very strong bipartisan support in both chambers, with 75 cosponsors in the Senate and 365 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. Senator Enzi (R-WY), during his remarks, praised the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND), a member of our UCEDD network, for its work helping individuals with developmental disabilities, families, professionals, and University of Wyoming students through education, training and community services and early intervention. Senator Casey (D-PA) asked his colleagues to build on the momentum for the bill in order to get it passed after the August recess.


The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Movie Captioning and Audio Description. The proposed rule would require movie theaters to acquire and exhibit closed captioning and audio description in movies that have close captioning and audio description available. Under the proposed rule, digital screens would be expected to comply with the requirements of the rule six months from publication of the final rule. The department is requesting comment on the application of the rule to analog screens and on the future of analog theaters, analog movie production, in general, and analog movies with accessible features.

Social Security Disability Insurance

On Thursday, July 24, the Senate Committee on Finance held a full committee hearing on the Social Security Disability Insurance program, its first in more than seven years. This hearing was held to evaluate the effectiveness and value of the program, which is funded by the SSDI trust fund. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the trust fund will be exhausted and unable to pay full scheduled benefits in Fiscal Year 2017, resulting in benefits cuts around 20 percent. Witnesses included Stephen Goss, the Chief Actuary for the Social Security Administration, and Marianna LaConfora, the Acting Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration.

National Disability Coalition

The Social Security Administration has announced a new National Disability Coalition. According to the administration, "the National Disability Coalition provides an opportunity for all interested stakeholders to share their unique insights on topics of particular interest to Social Security early in the process and directly with policy makers." As a first initiative, they are inviting comment on the Disability Determination Process. Comments are due August 15.

Social Security Trustees Report

The Social Security Trustees have released their 2014 report to Congress. The trustees report maintains the same estimates for trust fund longevity as it has in past reports: the Disability Insurance Trust Fund is likely to be depleted in 2016, with combined Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds likely to be exhausted in 2033. The Trustees report on the combined trust funds because Congress has routinely re-allocated between the trust funds. For more information, see this press statement and key points from the CCD Social Security Task Force.


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