Disability Policy News In Brief

October 12, 2015

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday
October 12, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 42
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

House Leadership Changes

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who many had considered to be the frontrunner in election to replace Rep. Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker, unexpectedly withdrew from the race on the day he was to be nominated. It appeared that he did not have the votes to succeed. This caused some chaos in the House of Representatives and Speaker Boehner agreed to stay in this role until a new Speaker is selected (the House cannot continue its business without a Speaker).  It remains unclear who will be able to garner the 218 votes needed to succeed in the election, given that the Republican caucus appears divided regarding its national priorities and how they want to operate.  AUCD is closely watching these important developments.

Budget and Appropriations

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee held a hearing on October 7 to discuss the future of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The hearing addressed the need for additional sustained funding for the NIH, which is currently threatened by the prospect of sequestration (across the board cuts). NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins testified, strongly urging that Congress avoid sequestration and reach a budget deal so that further investment in the NIH and other critical public initiatives will be possible.  The directors of many NIH subsidiary entities also testified, namely Dr. Douglas Lowy of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Griffin Rodgers of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, Dr. Walter Koroshetz of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. All stressed the NIH's potential to pursue further research into new therapies across diverse areas of medicine but each noted its need for federal support and called upon the senators to show commitment to the Institute's future.

In related budget news, activists from numerous advocacy groups (including AUCD) and several prominent Congressional Democrats attended a rally on October 7 to demand that Congress raise caps on discretionary spending to avoid sequestration. The rally was organized by NDD United and featured many prominent senior House Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Both senators from Rhode Island, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also addressed the crowd, as did Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The Members spoke warningly about the devastating consequences of a possible government shutdown and sequestration, noting that the 2013 government shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion. The speakers also called upon congressional leadership to agree to pursue a bipartisan budget deal before the debt ceiling is reached in early November. 

NDD United also hosted an online discussion with Joel Friedman from the Education Funding Coalition and Dave Reich, a former Budget staffer. Both guests discussed the implications of sustained future gridlock, warning that a year-long continuing resolution would have disastrous implications for all sectors, including national security, research, employment, education and health care, as well as the U.S. economy as a whole. They also answered live questions about the comparative content of the House and Senate 2016 appropriations bills, noting that both would impose exceedingly high cuts.  See the discussion on www.Twitter.com under the hashtag #RaiseTheCaps.

Social Security

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) have introduced the "Social Security Earned Benefits Payment Act" (S. 2090 and H.R. 3621). The legislation would temporarily increase the share of existing Social Security payroll taxes that go into Social Security's Disability Insurance Trust Fund (SSDI), by 0.85 percentage points from 2016 through 2020. This will prevent a 20 percent across-the-board cut in SSDI at the end of 2016, and will ensure that our Social Security system can pay all promised old-age, survivors', and disability insurance benefits through 2034. The bills were referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means, respectively.


This week the Advisory Committee on Competitive Integrated Employment will hold its sixth meeting, October 14-15. The purpose of the committee is to prepare findings, conclusions and recommendations for the Secretary of Labor on ways to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for individuals with I/DD, and ways to improve the use and oversight of certificate programs under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the employment of individuals with I/DD. These meetings will include public testimony of specific comments on the interim report that was recently submitted, personal stories and policy barriers, and next steps for the final report.  AUCD submitted a written statement in support of the many progressive recommendations put forward in the report.  AUCD policy committee member Jack Brandt (VA UCEDD) will provide oral testimony on behalf of the association at the meeting. Please also see last week's Tuesdays with Liz interview with David Mank (AUCD network member and chair of the Advisory Committee) and AUCD Executive Director Andy Imparato's blog related to the release of the interim report. 


The Senate HELP Committee hosted a Roundtable Thursday to highlight the need for more federal accountability in any final bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Three Democratic Senators--Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (who have been leading the charge on accountability throughout the reauthorization process), U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and incoming Secretary John King as well as several teachers and students discussed different aspects of accountability such as resource equity, data collection, and ensuring that subgroups of students are not provided interventions if they are falling behind.  Both the House and Senate have passed bills to reauthorize the law.  The next step is for the bills to go to a conference committee to work out the differences.  The Senate bill currently does not go far enough to ensure that states intervene when students or subgroups fall behind.  Senators Booker, Murphy and Warren introduced an amendment (supported by AUCD) that would have strengthened accountability but it failed. 

Education/Dyslexia Research

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee met to markup H.R. 3033, the Research Excellence and Advancements in Dyslexia (READ) Act, on October 8. The bill mandates that the National Science Foundation (NSF) conduct research on dyslexia and requires that the president's annual budget request include a line item for the NSF's Research in Disabilities Education program.  Following the markup session, the bill was sent to the floor of the House for consideration.  There is no Senate companion bill to date. AUCD signed on to a letter in support of the bill, which will be made available on the policy site soon.


AUCD signed onto a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in support of a proposed rule that would ban furniture, children's products, electronics enclosures and mattresses that contain halogenated flame retardant chemicals (this letter will be made available on the policy site soon). The chemicals in question have been linked to various forms of cancer, reproductive issues, thyroid problems and neurodevelopmental damage. While numerous studies and UN health experts have called for halogenated flame retardant chemicals to be banned, they remain common in many American products, especially maternity items and children's toys. This is particularly concerning as the prevalence of such toxic chemicals leaves young children and mothers at particularly great exposure to harm. Halogenated flame retardants can settle into house dust particles and linger for years, directly affecting a child's long-term physical and mental development. Additionally, studies have shown that their adverse effects upon attention, learning, behavior and development can actually be transgenerational, impacting the future offspring of children who are directly exposed to halogenated flame retardants. With these points in mind, AUCD firmly supports the banning of halogenated flame retardant chemicals.                                                                                         

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

For this week's edition of Tuesday With Liz: Disability Policy For All, Liz interviewed Colleen Thoma, Professor of Special Education and Disability Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Liz interviewed her about a wide array of topics related to higher education and disability issues, including the recommendations that came out of the Education sub-group at the National Goals conference in August. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed David Mank, the director of the Indiana UCEDD and chair of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.


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