Disability Policy News In Brief

October 5, 2015

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday
October 5, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 41
AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, FacebookAUCD, Disability Policy News InBrief, every Monday, TwitterDisability Policy News InBrief, every Monday, SharespaceAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, YouTube list Tuesday Morning with LizspaceAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, Subscription formAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, ArchiveAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, RSS

Budget and Appropriations

On Wednesday the Senate and House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown.  The Senate vote was 78-20; the House vote was 277-151. The President signed the CR just hours before the current budget authority expired at midnight of Sept. 30. The CR will continue federal government funding for 10-weeks, until Dec. 11.  The CR was passed without the controversial policy rider to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood health programs.  It is hoped that the stop-gap funding measure will buy enough time to negotiate an omnibus bill that wraps all 12 bills into a single FY 2016 spending bill.  As soon as the CR was signed, Hill news outlets reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had begun negotiations with the President and other leaders.  AUCD is participating in a rally this week, organized by NDD United, to urge congressional negotiators to raise the discretionary caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act to help pass a final bill and avoid sequestration cuts (see also last week's In Brief).

Debt Limit

In related news, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the debt limit would be reached by Nov. 5, approximately a month earlier than anticipated. The earlier date has been attributed to lower-than-expected tax receipts. The news is almost certain to intensify partisan tensions over budget negotiations. The Treasury urged that debt limit be raised before the impending departure of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Failure to raise the debt limit (which some see as a very real possibility given the strained political climate) would result in a default, a prospect that deeply worries many observers.


AUCD submitted a statement in support of the Interim Report of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. The primary focus of the Advisory Committee is to increase integrated employment, at or above minimum wage, and to increase the employment rate with the ultimate goal of significantly reducing segregated work and non-work programs and in the use of sub-minimum wage certificates. The committee was established in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014.  The report offers numerous policy recommendations  to help implement the WIOA and for nationwide investment and expansion of competitive integrated employment for people with intellectual, developmental disabilities, or other individuals with significant disabilities. For more information about the committee's week, see also this week's Tuesdays with Liz coming out tomorrow afternoon (see also Tuesdays below). AUCD encourages its network member centers to submit their own comments and recommendations to the advisory committee.  For more information, contact Kim Musheno at AUCD.

Education/Change in Leadership

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that he will step down in December, having held the position since January 2009. During his tenure, he helped institute the Race to the Top grants, increases in student aid and an expansion in funding for special education. He will be replaced by Deputy Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., a former New York state education commissioner who will serve in an acting capacity in order to prevent the need for Senate confirmation battle.

Home Health Care Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a rule in late 2013 that affects home care services for people with disabilities and seniors.  After extensive litigation, an appeals court in Washington, DC, upheld the rule on August 21.  This means the rule will go into effect soon, and may impact states' long-term care programs.  Of particular concern are "consumer-directed" programs which allow a person receiving services to hire his/her own worker and direct the care the worker provides, and "shared living" programs where the consumer and provider live together. To help state advocates implement the rule in a way that helps direct care workers but does not harm people with disabilities, AUCD joined with other national advocates to create a fact sheet and advocacy guide.  AUCD encourages network members and supporters to become familiar with this rule and help your state prepare for its implementation.

NIH Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a second round of grants to support the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.  This initiatives as first introduced in President Obama's FY15 budget request  to increase funding and focus on an array of neurological disorders, including autism, Alzheimer's, dementia, epilepsy, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury. Sixty-seven new grants totaling more than $38 million will be awarded to researchers at 125 institutions in the United States and overseas. The new awards raise the overall level of NIH investment in the BRAIN Initiative to $85 million for the fiscal year 2015.

Health Care/Veterans 

In a voice vote held Monday, the House passed the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015, which would make disabled veterans employed by the federal government eligible to claim their full year's sick leave immediately upon starting work. Under the terms of the bill, veterans who have a service-connected disability rating of at least 30 percent would have access to 104 hours of sick leave that may be used exclusively for related treatment. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) in January, is similar in name and content to a bill introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and passed by the Senate earlier this year. The two must now be reconciled in conference before being submitted for President Obama's signature.

Disability at the UN

The UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015 ended this week with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which laid out an agenda of universal objectives for ending global poverty and growing in an environmentally responsible manner over the next fifteen years. In addition to urging increased attention to global health and education needs as well as climate change, the SDGs also called for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all societies. This event marks the formal recognition of the rights of individuals with disabilities by the international development community. In statements issued after the summit, prominent NGOs and activist groups hailed the landmark inclusion of disability issues as a priority for global development and expressed hope that it would lead to greater political and material investment in empowering individuals with disabilities around the world.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Speaking of international rights, three more countries ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) this week. The CRPD, the world's principal human rights treaty meant to protect individuals with disabilities, was signed by Belarus and ratified by the Bahamas and the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week. To date, 159 countries have ratified the treaty, although the United States is still not among them.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

For this week's edition of Tuesday with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz Weintraub, the AUCD's Advocacy Specialist, interviewed David Mank, director of Indiana's UCEDD, the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. Dr. Mank is also the chair of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. During the interview, Liz and Dr. Mank discussed the committee's most recent report that contains policy recommendations to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Kim Musheno (AUCD's director of Public Policy) about federal funding and its connection to Planned Parenthood.  

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 


AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910