Disability Policy News In Brief

July 13, 2015

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July 13, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 28
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July 13, 2015

Vol. XV, Issue 28


The House of Representatives and the Senate took up their versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act last week.  The House Bill, the Student Success Act (HR. 5) passed on a very close vote of 218 to 213 with all voting democrats and 27 republicans voting against (see roll call: how your Member voted).  One potentially problematic bill was rejected the A-APLUS bill, a Bill that Ranking Member Scott said would allow states to "take the money and run"-portability.    Unfortunately Representatives Opt-Out Amendment passed (see Roll Call), which allows parents to opt their children out of the testing required under the law and exempts schools from including student that have opted out in schools' participation requirements. 

The Senate will continue debating the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177) this week.  So far seven amendments have been voted on, including Senator Hirono's (D-HI) amendment related to data disaggregation, supported by AUCD, which was rejected on a 47-50 vote.  Chairman Alexander's (R-TN) amendment that would allow low-income students to use federal tax dollars to pay private school tuition failed in a 45-52 vote.  Several Republicans joined Democrats to vote it down, including Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).  The CCD sent a letter to every Senator with recommendations regarding pending amendments.

The final vote on ECAA could occur as soon as this Thursday, July 16.  If the Senate bill approved, the differences between the House and Senate bills will have to be negotiated by a conference committee. HR 5 has drawn a veto threat from the White House, while the Senate bill has merely been criticized by the President without an explicit threat to reject it. The President hopes the Senate plan improves during floor debate and House-Senate negotiations.

ABLE Act Resource

On June 19th, Treasury and IRS released proposed regulations to guide states in the establishment of Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) programs and allowing the creation of tax advantaged savings accounts to benefit eligible individuals with disabilities. The ABLE National Resource Center is providing an overview of the regulations and next steps for the federal and state governments and advocates.  Speakers include national advocates that worked closely on the development of the law. Please register online. For more information, please contact James Thayer at [email protected]

Tax Policy

AUCD signed on to a letter addressed to the House and Senate AUCD signed on to a letter prepared by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) urging Congress to renew important pieces of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) before they expire at the end of 2017. If these provisions expire many low income working parents will lose their CTC, larger families will lose part of their EITC and veterans and workers outside of metropolitan areas will lose part, or all, of their credits. According to research by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 15% of all families that would lose some or all of their CTC or EITC include one or more people with a disability and about 400,000 workers with a disability would be directly impacted by losing some or all of their CTC or EITC. With the upcoming tax proposals under consideration by Congress, it is important that low wage workers and their families be included in these credits permanently.

In June, the House of Representatives approved Fiscal Year 2016 spending bills for the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development with several amendments attached that all but eliminate private local fair housing enforcement.  The bills also prohibit the federal government from using its fair housing rules to advance the Fair Housing Act's mission of supporting diverse, inclusive communities where everyone has access to the resources they need to succeed.  AUCD signed on to a National Fair Housing Alliance letter to the Senate in protest of The House of Representatives' Fiscal Year 2016 spending bill that contained anti-fair housing language with the intent to eliminate private local fair housing rules. The letter urges the Senate not to allow these attacks on fair housing by The House to continue any further and not let them go into action in 2016.

21st century cures

Last Friday the House passed the 21st Century Cures Act in a 344-77 vote.  AUCD signed onto a letter along with 250 other national organizations supporting the Cures Act.  The Cures Act reauthorizes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through 2018 and authorized additional funding for the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promote research and provide new incentives for the development of drugs for rare diseases, among other provisions (see summaries developed by House Committee staff).  The bill was almost derailed because of Amendment 29 offered by Dave Brat (VA-R).  Brat's amendment would have made the Cures Innovation Fund discretionary instead of mandatory. This change would have caused cuts into other important discretionary research and health activities making it more difficult to meet America's critical health challenges.  AUCD signed on to a letter last week opposing the Brat Amendment, which ultimately failed.    

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

This week, Liz Weintraub, AUCD's Policy staff, interviews Danny Ricci, an AUCD intern about the Elementary Secondary Education Act.  Ricci talks about his educational experience as a student with a disability and why he believes the general education system should be held accountable for all students.

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 on Twitter at @kmusheno

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


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