Disability Policy News In Brief

November 14, 2016

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November 14, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 98
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2016 Election Outcome

With the election outcomes now final, AUCD dedicates this issue of In Brief on post-election information that we have to date.  Beginning on January 20, 2017, our 45th President will be Donald J. Trump with the electoral count being 306-232 as of today. Governor Mike Pence (R-IN), now Vice-President elect is expected to play an important role as liaison to the Congressional leadership, having served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.

While there is much uncertainty about what a Trump presidency will look like, we are beginning to hear about some of his priorities. President-elect Trump published his priorities for the first 100 days in a two-page "Contract with the American Voter." He also has some information about his policies on the Trump Campaign site and embedded in candidate Trump's answers to the AAPD questionnaire that has been published here before. Among those priorities that AUCD has deep concerns about are plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, block grant Medicaid, ending executive orders related to disability employment, permit federal education funds to be used for private schools, and eliminate the budget sequester cuts for defense only.  On the positive side, the incoming administration has indicated plans to increase funding for infrastructure in order to create jobs, and to create tax credits for childcare and eldercare. AUCD will be monitoring these and other policy activities as the new administration develops their policy agenda.

Congressional Leadership

The election outcome also makes changes to the 115th Congress.  When the Lame Duck Congress returns on November 14, it will begin to organize its leadership and committee structures for the 115th Congress to begin January 3, 2017.  So far, it appears that Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will keep his post, as will House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).  With Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) retiring, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to take his place as Minority Leader.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to maintain her role as House Minority Leader.


Republicans will hold a majority in the Senate, although slimmer by two (52-48) following losses to Democratic candidates in Illinois and New Hampshire. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) lost his seat to Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a female veteran with disabilities. In New Hampshire, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) lost to Governor Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a parent of a child with developmental disabilities.

So far, it appears that Senator Lamar Alexander will continue to chair the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) as minority ranking member. However, Murray could choose to vie for ranking member of the Appropriations Committee instead. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) will continue as Budget Committee chair with Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) as ranking minority member unless Sanders takes Murray's place on the HELP Committee. The Appropriations Committee will still be chaired by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) with either Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) or Senator Murray as ranking member. The Finance Committee will continue to be led by Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) as ranking member.


Republicans lost six seats in the House but will retain the majority with at least 238 seats.  However, the Republican caucus remains fractious, which will continue to make it difficult for Speaker Ryan to move legislative items through the chamber.

There are several House Committee chairmanships up for grabs. So far, it appears that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) may become the next chair of the Appropriations Committee since Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) retired.  Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) will likely remain as ranking minority member. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will likely chair the Education and Workforce Committee now that Rep. John Kline (R-MN) will retire in January. Rumors are that Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Greg Walden (R-OR) are both vying for the top position on the Energy and Commerce Committee vacated by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) will likely continue as ranking minority member.

Leadership elections and committee organization will take place during the Lame Duck session from November 14-December 16. AUCD will report on final results following adjournment of the 114th Congress.

Lame Duck Session

Congressional sources have reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated a desire to complete the FY 2017 appropriations in an omnibus bill during the Lame Duck session.  However, some House conservatives are pushing for another short term continuing resolution to mid-March after the new Congress convenes.  The current CR is set to expire on December 9.

Meanwhile, there are many bills in the hopper for the Lame Duck Congress to consider, including ABLE Act legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act, criminal justice reform bills, and mental health reform bills. These may now be delayed until the next Congress. With the elections over and the Republicans maintaining the majority in both chambers plus the White House, there may be little incentive to move any of this legislation until the next Congress convenes.

Meanwhile, the new Administration will have to begin to put together its first Presidential Budget request for FY 2018. This budget will likely be submitted to Congress later than the scheduled second week of February.

AUCD is finalizing policy recommendations for the new Administration and Congress. These recommendations will be transmitted to the Trump transition team in late November or early December.


Over the weekend, sources indicated that President-elect Trump chose Reince Priebus (chairman of the Republican National Committee and campaign adviser) to be White House Chief of Staff, and Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, to be his senior counselor and chief strategist. The decision announced this weekend means Priebus will be a critical conduit to lawmakers each time the future President makes a major decision.

Other cabinet possibilities include:


  • Secretary of State - John R. Bolton (Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush), Bob Corker (Senator from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), Newt Gingrich (Former House Speaker), Zalmay Khalilzad (Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan), Stanley A. McChrystal (Former senior military commander in Afghanistan)
  • Attorney General ­- Chris Christie (Governor of New Jersey), Rudolph W. Giuliani (Former Mayor of New York City), Jeff Sessions (Senator from Alabama)
  • Labor Secretary - Victoria A. Lipnic (Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner and Workforce Policy Counsel to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce)
  • Department of Health and Human Services - Ben Carson (2016 presidential candidate and neurosurgeon), Mike Huckabee (Former Governor of Arkansas and 2016 presidential candidate), Bobby Jindal (Former Governor of Louisiana), and Rick Scott (Governor of Florida)
  • Department of Education - Williamson M. Evers (Advisor at the Hoover Institution) and Ben Carson


 Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

During this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz, Liz Weintraub provides her thoughts on the presidential election outcome.

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 

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