Disability Policy News In Brief

March 27, 2017

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March 27, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 116
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Health Care

On Friday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan abruptly cancelled the scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a budget reconciliation bill that would have repealed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). With the AHCA vote pulled, this means the ACA and all of the provisions that protect all citizens' right to comprehensive, accessible, and affordable health care and community supports remains in effect.  In a statement to the press, AUCD's executive director said that the association "believes strongly that the ACA should be protected and made stronger, but not repealed.  We thank those Representatives that made a thoughtful and principled decision to vote against the AHCA, a bill that would have resulted in the loss of health care and critical community supports for millions of citizens." AUCD thanks those members and allies that made Hill visits, numerous calls, wrote letters to the editor, and educated neighbors and policymakers.  Please take a moment now to thank Members that were willing to vote against the bill.

President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Majority Leader McConnell have signaled that they would like to move onto tax reform, but it is unclear what the future holds for health care reform. AUCD and other health advocates will be watching closely for any future attempts to weaken access to health and community based supports for people who need them.


The current continuing resolution (CR) expires on April 28, leaving one month for Congress to complete work on the annual appropriations bills for the 2017 fiscal year that ended on October 1.  During the Disability Policy Seminar last week, appropriations staff reported some optimism that an omnibus bill could still be in the works.  If an omnibus is not completed, there is the possibility for an extension of the CR for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate have begun appropriations hearing for the FY 2018 budget and appropriations.  The House L-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing this Wednesday on funding for programs within the Department of Health and Human Services.  U.S. Secretary of HHS is schedule to testify.  AUCD sent written testimony on to the Subcommittee for the record outlining the association's funding recommendations for the network. 

New Appointments

Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote today on Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court, however, Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) has said he expects it will take place April 3.

Secretary of Labor

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is scheduled to vote Thursday on the nomination of Alexander Acosta to be U.S. Secretary of Labor. The Department of Labor is the agency responsible for the implementation of federal labor and employment laws, including those relating to wages and hours. Additionally, it includes the Office of Disability Employment Policy which is a non-regulatory agency that promotes employment of people with disabilities.


Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1

On March 22, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress. In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, the high court rejected the "merely more than de minimis" standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote "When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all [...] The IDEA demands more, it requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances."  Interestingly, the ruling was announced at the same time Judge Gorsuch was under questioning about his cases related to special education.

School Privatization

On March 22, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, sent a memo to Senate colleagues regarding the repercussions of school privatization efforts. The 20-page memo includes stories on school privatization policies and provides an overview of the main types of such policies (vouchers, direct tax credits or deductions, tax credit vouchers, and education savings accounts) and how these policies fall short in three areas: 1) accountability and transparency, 2) challenges in rural areas, and 3) protecting students' rights. On the same day, Senator Murray keynoted an event at the Center for American Progress entitled Federal Voucher Programs: Implications for Public Schools and Vulnerable Students.

ESSA Budget

The Center for American Progress (March 2017) released a policy analysis of the President's budget in that includes a projection of the impact such a proposal might have on each state.  According to the analysis, the President's Budget includes significant cuts to teacher training, after-school programs in public schools, and transfers of public funds to private school vouchers. The article highlights the $2.4 billion cuts for Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program (or Title II) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers (or 21st CCLC), Title IV, Part B, of ESSA; as well as explaining how the budget would hinder every state's ability to deliver critical services and resources to their K-12 students.

ESSA Regulations

Today, President Trump signed the resolution overturning the final regulation implementing the accountability, state plan, and data provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The press release from the House Education Committee leaders states that the Rule had undermined local control of schools. (See previous issues of In Brief for more background.)


A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate hope to jump-start efforts to move a reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education programs (PL 109-270).  According to Representatives Glenn Thompson's (R-PA) office, a bill is set to be introduced this spring by Representatives Thompson and Jim Langevin (D-RI). In the Senate, Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) is working on a bill that Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander has called a priority. The Perkins Career and Technical Education Act authorizes programs that help workers attain skills for jobs that don't require a college degree but are too technical to do with a high school diploma, such as positions in manufacturing and welding or as a technician in the medical or automotive field.  AUCD provide recommendations to Congress to ensure the inclusion of students with disabilities in such programs.

Disability Policy Seminar

Last Wednesday marked the last day of the 2017 Disability Policy Seminar. The annual Seminar brought together nearly 1,000 advocates and provided in-depth workshops on pressing policy issues and other topics of importance to the I/DD movement during two full-day sessions, culminating with a third day spent on Capitol Hill where attendees had the opportunity to meet with their elected officials. Many network members also attended a press event sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) highlighting the dangers of the American Health Care Act.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz interviews Liz Koss, AUCD virtual trainee, about what she does in this role. In case you missed the last two episodes, Liz interviewed Donna Meltzer for a two-part discussion of the President's budget (Part one, part two).


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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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