Disability Policy News In Brief

January 26, 2015

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January 26, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 4
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House is scheduled to consider several measures related to human trafficking. The Senate will resume consideration of S. 1 the Keystone XL Pipeline Act.

State of the Union

President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 20. His message focused on economic opportunity and announced several new proposals, including the Precision Medicine Initiative. According to the White House blog, "Precision medicine is an emerging approach to promoting health and treating disease that takes into account individual differences in people's genes, environments, and lifestyles, making it possible to design highly effective, targeted treatments for cancer and other diseases." To highlight the initiative, the First Lady invited Bill Elder, a man with cystic fibrosis, to join her at the address. AUCD looks forward to working with the administration on the initiative. Read the full text on WhiteHouse.gov



Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) has introduced House Joint Resolution 1, proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The measure, if passed by the House and Senate and ratified by three-fourths of the states, would amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget each year. The amendment would also put caps on outlays as a share of GDP and only allow revenue increases if passed by three-fifths of the House and Senate. AUCD strongly opposes the amendment. In addition to the catastrophic spending cuts it would require, a balanced budget amendment would also significantly hamper the nation's ability to respond to national security emergencies, recessions, and other macroeconomic instability. Learn more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The President will release his budget request on Monday, February 2. AUCD will release a special edition of In Brief detailing the disability programs included in that request.  


AUCD participated in a Congressional briefing highlighting a new analysis by the American Institutes for Research that finds that those with disabilities earn 64 cents to every dollar their colleagues make, a disparity on par with the gender pay gap. Considering that equal pay is vital to keeping those with disabilities financially independent and out of poverty, this briefing explores the key facts and the ways that policy can help equalize income. Speakers also discussed recent changes to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) gave brief remarks in support of the report's findings. AUCD's Michael Gamel-McCormick participated as a panel discussant. See the #EarningsDisparity conversation on Twitter for more information.

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities met for the first time on January 22 & 23. The purpose of the committee, created by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, is to make recommendation on ways to increase opportunities for competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities including ways to improve the oversight of the certificate program under section 14 (c) for the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, appointed the committee members, which include several representatives of the DD Network. David Mank, Director of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University was elected as chair of the committee. AUCD Associate Executive Director Michael Gamel-McCormick offered testimony on the purpose of the committee from the perspective of the authors of WIOA.


Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, held a hearing last Tuesday on assessments and accountability issues related to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The Committee will hold another hearing tomorrow on issues related to supporting teachers and evaluation.  AUCD sent a letter to Senator Alexander and other committee members urging them to work in a bipartisan manner to develop legislation that ensures access to the general curriculum with supports in order to make it possible for students with disabilities to graduate with a general high school diploma and move on to post-secondary education and careers; and to include all students with disabilities in the assessment and accountability processes using the same standards and assessments with accommodations -- not with alternate or modified standards and assessments. AUCD also signed onto letters from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights outlining concerns with the draft bill.  For copies of those letters and more information about ESEA reauthorization, see AUCD's Education Policy site.

 Department of Justice

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General on January 28 and 29. The President nominated Ms. Lynch in November after the current Attorney General Eric Holder announced his plans to step down. Ms. Lynch is a twice-Senate-confirmed US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she has prosecuted cases related to organized crime, terrorism, public corruption, and police brutality.

For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For updates from our 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

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