Disability Policy News In Brief

December 7, 2015

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December 7, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 50
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FY 2016 Appropriations/Omnibus

Congress has a deadline of this Friday, December 11 to pass an omnibus bill (i.e., a bill folding all 12 annual appropriations bills into one) before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires.  Unfortunately, it appears that senior appropriators and their staff are not close to an agreement on a number of funding issues and policy riders.  So far, there is no discussion about a government shutdown; however, there is a strong possibility that a short-term CR (at least until Dec. 18) will have to be passed as they try to finish their work.  If appropriators cannot come to an agreement on all or some of the funding bills, they could pass a long term CR for those bills that they cannot complete, a move that AUCD does not support.  The Labor, HHS, Education bill is one of the biggest and most controversial bills, and, therefore, one of those that is likely not to pass. A long term CR would likely mean no increases and no newly proposed initiatives would not be funded.  AUCD is urging Congress to pass an FY 2016 funding bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education that provides sufficient resources to fund programs that support people with disabilities to live, learn, and work in the community.

Health Care/Budget Reconciliation Bill

The Senate resumed consideration Wednesday on a budget reconciliation bill (HR 3762) that would repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year. The House passed the bill in late October by a vote of 240-189 along party lines. Through the budget reconciliation process, the Senate bill would only need 51 votes instead of 60 to pass that chamber. On Thursday, the measure passed 52-47 after the Senate voted to significantly strengthen the bill previously passed by the House. The House will need to approve the amended legislation before it can be sent to the White House. President Obama, as he has already pledged, will veto the legislation. Watch the House debate on the Reconciliation bill. The Senate debate is also archived.


On December 2, the House voted 359-64 to pass S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as the No Child Left Behind Act. The bill was approved with strong bipartisan support, with all Democrats and a majority of Republicans voting in favor of the legislation (64 Republicans voted against the bill) (see how your Member voted).  AUCD sent a letter to all Members of Congress urging their support for final passage of the conference report.  AUCD also helped draft a letter on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force urging support of final passage.  The letter was signed by 33 national disability organizations.  The Senate is expected to pass the conference report as soon as this Tuesday, December 8.  For more information, see the committee's summary of the bill and the full text.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC)

EITC and CTC, which go to millions of low- and moderate-income working families each year, provide work, income, educational, and health benefits to its recipients and their children. In 2009, several important improvements were made to the EITC and CTC, which are due to expire as of 2017. Due to the significance of these improvements and the positive impact they have on millions of working families across the country, AUCD, along with a number of national organizations, signed onto a letter urging Congress to make these changes permanent in any tax extenders bill before Congress adjourns at the end of the month, as opposed to postponing till 2017. The final letter will be available later this week on the AUCD site.

Home and Community Bases Services (HCBS) Statewide Transition Plans

On January 16, 2014 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published final regulations that pertain to Home and Community-Based Service (HCBS) programs. The final regulations went into effect on March 17, 2014 and set a five year timeline for states to comply. All states have submitted a proposed Statewide Transition Plan (STP) and as of yesterday, December 4, CMS has responded to each state by sending a letter that addresses areas of clarifications and modifications required for initial approval. For more information on your state, including requests for public comment, visit our Advocacy site.


On Wednesday, December 2 AUCD staff participated in the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD)  annual gala honoring outstanding leaders who have contributed to the global disability community. USICD presented its annual Dole-Harkin Award to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) for her advocacy for policy reforms that support individuals with disabilities, including the CRPD. The award's namesakes, former Senators Bob Dole (R-KS) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), were also present at the event, which took place at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, DC.

December 3 marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. First observed by the United Nations in 1992, the Day aims to strengthen awareness and understanding of disability issues as well as generate greater support for the dignity, rights, and wellbeing of those who live with a disability. The White House recognized the occasion by issuing a presidential proclamation championing the importance of international disability rights and noting the U.S.'s influence on the global disability rights movement, particularly through the precedents set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.     

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

This week, Liz Weintraub, AUCD's advocacy specialist and host of Tuesday with Liz: Disability Policy for All, interviews David Morrissey, executive director of the United States International Council on Disabilities, about USICD's activities, major global disability rights challenges and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which took place on December 3 and was marked at USICD's annual gala (see above). Also, in case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Janet Lord of the Harvard Project on Disability about the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as other international issues.


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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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