AUCD Legislative News In Brief

August 25, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
   August 25, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 34
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Congressional Schedule

Congress is currently out on August recess. At the top of the busy congressional agenda when they return will be passing a continuing resolution in the roughly two weeks (September 8-23) Congress is scheduled to be in session before the end of the federal fiscal year. Also on the agenda are the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the ABLE Act.  Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) also plans to move the annual defense authorization bill that includes an amendment to cover behavioral health for children of military families.


The new fiscal year begins in just two months on October 1, but Congress has not yet completed any of the 12 annual appropriations bills. House and Senate leaders are already discussing the outlines of a continuing resolution (CR) to keep government programs running. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently predicted that Congress will pass a "clean" (no amendments) CR through mid-December (past the November mid-term and leadership elections). House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) was also recently heard saying that wrapping up this fiscal year's funding could look a lot like last year when he and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), negotiated an omnibus bill in the last three weeks of December. AUCD will continue to monitor the appropriations process and advocate for the highest possible funding levels for programs for people with disabilities.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014. WIOA reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act, including the Rehabilitation Act.  AUCD provided a webinar highlighting some of the improvements related to job training for people with developmental and other disabilities and ways in which the AUCD network can be involved. The PowerPoint slides are posted on AUCD's events page and the archive will be available soon.

The Department of Labor has launched a WIOA resource page that includes summaries of the law, key implementation dates. DOL will soon begin writing regulations to implement the new law and has just announced a series of webinars to engage the public around the development of regulations. The August 26 and September 2 webinars are specifically related to services for those with disabilities. The AUCD network is encouraged to participate.


The National Disability Rights Network - the national association of State Protection & Advocacy Systems - has launched a national 14(c) Wage and Hour Complaint Initiative. The initiative began with two webinars in July (archived on NDRN plans to release a report on the findings of the initiative in a final report in 2015.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

AUCD continues to advocate for the Senate to ratify the disability treaty (CRPD). With the Senate only two weeks in September before full-swing election season, AUCD encourages advocates to continue contacting their Senators to encourage their support for the treaty. To take action, visit To learn about the history, status, and to read talking points, visit the We Can Do This If We Try Blog.


AUCD sent letters of support to the sponsors of the Technology, Education, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act, initially introduced in the House (H.R. 3505), by Representative Tom Petri (R-WI) in November 2013 and Senate (S. 2060) by Senators Warren (D-MA) and Hatch (R-UT)  in February 2014.  This bill aims to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to electronic instructional materials in post-secondary education. The bill directs the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Board (Access Board) to issue guidelines on accessible electronic instructional materials and technologies, which will help developers and manufactures through the production of universally accepted accessibility guidelines.  Senator Harkin (D-IA) has integrated many of the provision in the TEACH Act into the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Behavioral Health Care

AUCD is organizing Hill visits with key Members of Congress to gain additional co-sponsors for the  Caring for Military Children with Developmental Disabilities Act (S. 2333), a bill introduced by Senators Murray (D-WA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Rubio (R-FL), and Blunt (R-MO).  The bill will improve access to behavioral health therapy for children with developmental disabilities, including autism. AUCD network members are encouraged to educate their Members about the need for all children to get the behavioral health services they need. For more information about how to help, see AUCD's action center.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 is likely to come to a vote in both the House and Senate before Congress adjourns. This bill (S. 313/H.R.647) has very strong bipartisan and bicameral support with 74 cosponsors in the Senate and 379 co-sponsors in the House. The ABLE Act aims to promote asset development and ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by amending Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to create tax-preferred savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation for people with disabilities. The savings accounts would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources. Take action now to encourage Congress to pass this bill before it adjourns.


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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.
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