Disability Policy News In Brief

March 21, 2016

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday
March 21, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 64
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


The House of Representatives has postponed consideration of its FY 2017 Budget Resolution until after the Congressional recess (ending on April 4). The House Budget Committee approved the resolution on March 16; however, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that floor debate on the bill would occur when Congress returns. The resolution cuts more than $140 billion in discretionary spending over the next ten years, but members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have expressed opposition to the plan, arguing that it does not go far enough in reducing spending.

Eleven senators signed onto a letter in support of increased funding for DD Councils, UCEDDs, and the Protection & Advocacy (P&A) systems. The letter, which was addressed to Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) urges the subcommittee's leaders to secure proper funding so that DD Councils, UCEDDs and the P&As can continue to provide vital services to individuals with disabilities and families. The letter was sent by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) along with nine of their Democratic colleagues, namely Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).  If any of these are your senators, please thank them!

AUCD signed onto letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Appropriations Subcommittees on L-HHS-ED in the House and Senate, expressing support for the inclusion of $38 million to fund the Assistive Technology (AT) Act programs in the FY 2017 L-HHS-ED Appropriations bills. The letter strongly urges members of the Appropriations Committees to fully fund the AT Act in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access the assistive technology resources they need.

U.S. Supreme Court

On March 16, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Judge Garland's nomination was announced four weeks after Justice Scalia's passing. He has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1997, having become Chief Judge in 2013. Senate Republicans have vowed not to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Garland and maintain that Justice Scalia's successor should be chosen by the next President. CCD made the following statement urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the President's nominee. AUCD signed onto a consortium letter with the same message. 

Health Care/Mental Health

On March 16, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. Introduced by Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and cosponsored by Senators Murray (D-WA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Murphy (D-CT), this bill seeks to integrate mental health and physical health systems in order to improve coordination of care. Testimony from Senators Alexander, Murray, and Murphy emphasized the struggle that families face when trying to find and obtain adequate mental health services and the need for coordinated mental and physical health care. Senator Alexander stated, "health insurance plans need to cover mental health needs comparable to that of medical health need" and "insurance companies need to be pushed to comply with the law." The bill takes several steps to improve how our mental health parity laws are applied and enforced. For example, States will be required to develop an action plan to improve coordination of mental health needs. The bill was approved by the committee after the insertion of a provision for infant and early childhood mental health programs that focus on prevention, early intervention and treatment of mental illness. AUCD supports the intent of this bill and will continue to monitor its progress.

Older Americans Act

On March 17, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Senator Kline (R-MN) agreed to take up the Older Americans Act Reauthorization of 2016 (see summary). The bill (S. 192) may move under suspension of the rules very soon. The House bill included specific authorizing language, which totals a 6.777% increase over 3 years (increases in each year are: 2.49% in FY 2017; 2.091% in FY 2018; and 2.418% in FY 2019), and changes to the (Senior Community Service Employment Program) SCSEP program that were discussed and vetted by advocates over the summer. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities was provided input into the bill to ensure that the National Family Caregiver Support Program supports older people caring for children with developmental disabilities (regardless of age).  The Senate bill (S. 192) was introduced by HELP Committee Chairman Alexander on Jan. 20 and passed the Senate on July 16. The Older Americans Act of 1965 was the first federal level initiative aimed at providing comprehensive services for older adults.


The LEAD Center has created two guides that can be used by both individuals and Workforce Development Boards to review Unified and Combined WIOA State Plans. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires every state to have submitted a Unified or Combined State Plan to implement the law by April.  The LEAD Center guides can be used as tools to review different plans' effectiveness in addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities.     

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All                   

This week Liz Weintraub, AUCD's advocacy specialist and host of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, interviewed David Hoff, Program Director at the Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts-Boston, about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the state plans that are due in the beginning of April. In case you missed last's week edition, Liz interviewed Sara Luterman, AUCD program assistant, on how to include individuals with autism in the workforce. 

Disability Policy Seminar

Wednesday, April 13 is the date for which everyone should be scheduling their Hill visits.  Scheduling the visits is easy.  Just dial the Capitol switchboard number (202-224-3121), ask for the Member of Congress with whom you wish to make an appointment; ask for the staff person that works on health or disability issues; and set an appointment (see more tips). To coordinate with other participants from your state, see the list of attendees. Want more help? Register for the March 29 webinar: Preparing for the Disability Policy Seminar.  Register online for the Policy Seminar.  See you there!

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