Disability Policy News In Brief

June 27, 2016

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June 27, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 78
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Last week the House approved the first of 12 appropriations bills (Military Construction) that also contained funding to combat the Zika virus. However, the bill was passed during an historic Democratic "sit-in" aimed at pressuring the Republican-controlled House to take action to prevent gun violence causing the House to adjourn for the July 4 recess early.  In addition, the President has stated that he would veto the funding bill because the Zika funding measure is not enough money and contains policy riders that are unacceptable. In the Senate, movement on appropriations also stalled in part due to the 15 hour Murphy filibuster to push for gun measures.  With only several weeks left before Congress leaves for August recess, it appears more and more likely that none of the annual funding bills will be passed and signed before the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.

Gun Violence

On June 22, House Democrats held a sit-in protest over Republicans' refusal to consider legislation to counter gun violence. The protest, which lasted 26 hours, comes amid a renewed debate over gun violence and an appropriate legislative response following the tragic mass shooting in Orlando, the largest single mass shooting in U.S. history. Gun violence claims 100,000 victims (including more than 30,000 fatalities) every year. Although thousands of shooting victims survive attacks, many are left with significant disabilities. Recovery from a gun attack is difficult medically, legally and financially, and imposes a large human and societal toll. The overall cost of gun violence is estimated to be $27 billion. Although the House has now adjourned until after the Fourth of July, AUCD strongly urges lawmakers in both parties to take immediate action to address the pressing issue of gun violence.  For more information about the nexus between gun violence and disability, see last week's issue of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All.


Zika Virus

On June 23, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will award $742,000 in funding to three health centers in American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to strengthen capacity for responding to the Zika virus. The funds will be used to support preventive and primary care services as well as patient education and screening. The names of the health centers and the amount of funding they have been awarded can be viewed here.

Child Welfare and Mental Health

On June 21, the House passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456) by voice vote under suspension of the rules. Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Sandy Levin (D-MI), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Karen Bass (D-CA) spoke on the floor to the critical need to reform the child welfare system and how this bill takes steps toward realizing those needed changes. Representatives Doggett and Bass, while offering their support for the bill, also highlighted some of the ongoing challenges that the child welfare system continues to face and the need to watch for unintended consequences as these reforms are implemented. The Child Welfare and Mental Health Coalition, of which AUCD is a member, sent a letter to Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House) and Nancy Pelosi (Minority Leader) applauding the historic step the Act takes to increase federal investments in prevention to keep more children safely with their parents or family caregivers and out of foster care, and in support of the bill's emphasis on quality residential treatment to ensure the needs - and clinical needs - of children with serious emotional, or behavioral disorders or disturbances are met.

Autism CARES

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) is looking for comments from people with autism, family members, service providers, advocates and other interested parties as it gears up for its 2016 update. Comments should be related to the seven key topics traditionally addressed by the panel: 1) screening and diagnosis, 2) underlying biology of autism, 3) risk factors, 4) treatments and interventions, 5) services, 6) lifespan issues, and 7) surveillance and infrastructure. Originally authorized by the Combating Autism Act of 2006, the IACC has been slow to reboot since it was reauthorized under the Autism CARES Act of 2014. The IACC is accepting comments through July 29.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All                   

In recognition of Pride Month, Liz Weintraub, host of this week's edition of interviewed David Frye, who serves as coordinator for the Vermont LGBTQ Disabilities Network in this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All. They discussed his experiences as an LGBTQ individual with a disability.  

In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Jennifer Longdon, is a person with a disability as a result of gun violence. They spoke about her experience following the gun violence and how she became a disability advocate.

The Pennhurst Traveling Memorial

On June 27, AUCD staff joined Senator Bob Casey and former Senator Tom Harkin and Represenative Tony Coehlo in viewing a traveling exhibition The Pennhurst Story - From Tragedy to Disability Rights and I Go Home a documentary on the legacy of Pennhurst State Hospital. The exhibit and documentary from the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance aim to promote an understanding of the struggle for dignity and full civil rights for persons with disabilities.

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

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