Disability Policy News In Brief

August 8, 2016

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August 08, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 84
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Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate are on recess.  Passing a continuing resolution (CR) to prevent a government shutdown will be high on their priority list when they return on September 6. While there seems to be consensus on passing a CR, there is no consensus yet about whether the CR will be short term or long term and whether or not Congress will hold a lame duck session following the presidential election or not.

Health Care

Zika Response Funding

On August 3, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee appealing for immediate Congressional funding for Zika. It also warned htat current department funds will run out by September 30 (the end of the current fiscal year) if Congress does not act now. The funds being used to address the Zika virus include $47 million in repurposed funding allocated to the NIH, which recently began trials for a DNA-based Zika vaccine. Those trials will be postponed if funding runs out at the end of the physical year. Congressional failure to provide funding will also halt partnerships with private companies that are working to develop a vaccine. Lack of funding also will block HRSA from expanding maternal and child health care in Puerto Rico, where the virus has been especially prevalent. Additionally, without additional funding, CMS will not be able to provide federal matching funds to Puerto Rico. Secretary Burwell also warned that the CDC will exhaust all of its domestic response funding by the end of the fiscal year unless Congress provides new appropriations. The letter to lawmakers comes days after the CDC issued a travel advisory against visiting the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, where a growing number of individuals are being diagnosed with Zika.

Zika Sign-On Letter

AUCD signed onto a second letter (see first letter here) to Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader Reid urging Congress to craft a compromise Zika funding package that can pass both chambers and be signed by the President. The Zika virus presents a serious, imminent threat to pregnant women and infants across our nation and Congress needs to be ready to act immediately on it upon returning to session in September. Those who support Congressional action to respond to the Zika virus can add their organizations' names to the letter here.


The Labor Department, Office of Disability Employment Policy is holding a teleconference meeting of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities to make minor adjustments to the report language and to confirm consensus on its final report. The public is invited. You can RSVP for the meeting on August 29 here. The Committee held their final in-person meeting July 20 and 21 at which time AUCD staff publicly thanked the Committee for their leadership and commitment on expanding competitive integrated employment (CIE) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and also pledged to be a partner in the effort to secure more support and take necessary action to ensuring all individuals with disabilities have the option for CIE.

Labor Statistics

On August 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its First Friday Jobs Report. The report shows employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 27.2 percent in July 2015 to 28.1 percent in July 2016 (up 3.3 percent; 0.9 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.6 percent in July 2015 to 73.3 percent in July 2016 (up 1.0 percent; 0.7 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100). 


ESSA Implementation

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) signed a letter to Secretary of Education John King requesting that states be given more time to formulate and enact accountability systems required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The letter asks the Department of Education to extend the current deadline for the implementation of state accountability plans by one year, from the 2017-2018 school year to 2018-2019. Such an extension would give states an additional year to complete transition to new accountability systems for measuring school performance. The Department of Education has not finalized the deadline dates for states to submit their accountability plans, and Secretary King indicated that he may be open to considering a different timeline during a Senate hearing in June.


The President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID), of which AUCD's Advocacy Specialist Liz Weintraub is a citizen member, recently sent their report on Improving Technology Access to the President. The report along with information about PCPID is available on the Administration for Community Living website.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

During this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Dianne Dressler (Senior Associate with Community Life Resources) about housing issues. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed interns at the American Association for Persons with Disabilities (AAPD), Frances Isbell and Jovan Ruvalcaba, as well as AUCD's intern, Caitlin Chasar, about their summer experiences and their disability policy interests. 


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

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