Disability Policy News In Brief

May 11, 2014

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May 11, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 19
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May 11, 2015

Vol. XV, Issue 17


AUCD has been actively educating Senate staff, along with other members of the disability and civil rights community, regarding the need to strengthen the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) before it passes the full Senate.  While AUCD is pleased that the Senate HELP Committee significantly improved the draft bill released in January, we believe the bill must be improved by strengthening accountability for student outcomes, providing additional data on student groups, addressing disparities in resources, and providing a more meaningful federal role in the implementation and oversight of the law. Importantly, the bill must ensure that schools that are persistently failing to demonstrate results for groups of students are not only identified, but also required to take action to improve outcomes for students and given the resources they need to do so. Without these improvements, AUCD and other disability and civil rights advocates may not be able to support the bill (see April 13 LCCHR letter to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray).  The House bill (H.R. 5) continues to be stalled, reportedly not having enough votes to pass it. 

On May 5, the Senate approved (51-48) a FY 2016 concurrent budget resolution that was approved by the House the previous week.  During recent meetings with appropriators, AUCD learned that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees may be receiving their budget allocations (302(b)s) next week, with the first markups taking place as early as the week of May 18.  AUCD signed onto a letter that was delivered to the Senate last week urging the Appropriations Committee to restore the FY 2016 allocation for the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to at least the FY 2010 level of $136.6 billion. "Despite their profound impact on American health, child development, educational and skills attainment, and productivity, the letter states, "these programs and services have been cut by12 percent ($21 billion) since FY 2010, adjusted for inflation. In real terms, FY 2015 is at its second lowest level since FY 2001-the only lower year being FY 2013 when sequestration's across-the-board cuts took effect."

Last week AUCD policy staff participated in the Friends of NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Hill day.  Dr. Alan Guttmacher the director of NICHD, kicked off the day highlighting progress being made by NICHD-funded research.  AUCD joined with other coalition members to meet with Appropriations Committee staff where coalition members discussed important NICHD research, including contributions of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs), some of which are outlined in the testimony submitted by the Friends of NICHD.  The Friends of NICHD are requesting at least $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at least $1.37 billion for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD in the FY 2016 L-HHS-ED appropriations bill.

Older Americans Act

AUCD joined numerous national organizations in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid urging the Senate to take action to on the Older Americans Act Reauthorization of 2015 (S.192) (OAA).  The bill was introduced on January 20, 2015 by HELP Committee Chairman, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), was approved by the committee on January 28, and now has 19 bipartisan co-sponsors. The Bill currently awaits Senate floor action.  AUCD supports this bill that reauthorizes and improves a law that supports employment, social and nutritional services to Americans 60 and older, including Meals on Wheels, transportations services, and caregiver assistance.  The bill also includes changes to ensure that families with children with disabilities can be served under the National Family Caregiver Support Program, an amendment strongly supported by AUCD.  There is no House companion bill to date.


Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced proposals to move the Commission forward on two important communications access issues for Americans with disabilities: better access to information and communication technology for people with disabilities.  To accomplish these goals the FCC co-hosted a forum with the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective which specifically focused on accessibility issues facing young adults with disabilities. U.S. Access Board staff members explained how to file comments in its proposed Rule to update regulations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Act makes sure that federal agencies use accessible technologies, whether developed or procured. In addition, FCC staff members gave a presentation on the rights and procedures under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

White House Disability Liaison
The White House has named Maria Town as the new Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement, Ms. Town will manage the Office of Public Engagement's disability and Federal agency portfolio.  This was previously a detail position held by Taryn Williams, who is returning to the Department of Labor.  Prior to her appointment in the Executive Branch, Town was a Policy Advisor at U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). She has particular expertise in areas of youth development and leadership and promoting college and career readiness for all youth.

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For more policy news, follow Kim on Twitter at @kmusheno

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


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