Disability Policy News In Brief

July 3, 2017

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July 3, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 129
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Happy 4th and Important Week of Recess

Health Care

As reported in last week's In Brief, the Senate was expected to vote on the  Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) as early as June 29. However, due to concerns expressed by advocates all over the country as well as a number of Republican senators expressing reservations about the bill in its current form, the vote on the BCRA has been postponed until after July 4 recess. The House will be in recess from July 3 to July 10, and the Senate from July 3 to July 9. This is a good time to meet with your Members of Congress in person (find town hall schedule here; if there is not one near you, request one).  For ideas of what to discuss, please see three important documents developed by AUCD: 1) Recess Action Alert, 2) toolkit that includes ways to contact your members and sample talking points, and 3) summary of the BCRA.

The Democratic staff of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform just released state-specific reports examining the "devastating effects that Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid funding would have on children with severe disabilities and special health care needs who rely on these programs to survive".  Other papers and analyses in the last 48 hours include: Key Papers & Analysis from the last 48 hours: CBO Finds Medicaid Cuts Deepen in Second Decade; What's in the Senate Bill? Round Up of all CBPP Analysis on the Senate Bill To DateLittle Known Medicaid Changes in the Senate Bill; HSA's Senate GOP Adding Another High-Income Tax Break to Health Bill; Urban Institute effects of the BCRA.

Budget and Appropriations

On June 29, the House Appropriations Committee approved the $658.1 billion defense spending bill by voice vote (archived recording here). The bill includes $584.2 billion in defense discretionary, a $35.2 billion increase over the statutory spending cap, and provides $73.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending. Please note that any effort to increase spending above the statutory spending caps - for defense with no parity for non-defense -  established by the Budget Control Act (BCA) will require new legislation to raise the caps (unless the enforcement sequester is triggered to bring spending back in line with the BCA caps).  The Committee also approved its fiscal 2018 Legislative Branch spending bill on voice vote. The $3.58 billion bill would provide $100 million more than the fiscal 2017 enacted level.  These bills have been passed in spite of the fact that the House has not yet passed a Budget Resolution or formally provided funding allocations. During one markup, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced an amendment to require the release all 12 "302(b) allocations" before a bill could be reported out the committee (so we could better see the winners and losers). The amendment was rejected.

New Appointments

The President nominated Carlos G. Muñiz, a Florida lawyer who served as deputy general counsel to former Governor Jeb Bush, to be General Counsel to the Department of Education. Also, Candice E. Jackson, a lawyer in Vancouver who aided Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, will now be the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education. Many advocates have expressed concerns with these appointments fearing that the agency could pull back from enforcing civil rights in schools and on college campuses given past actions of the nominees.

The White House on Thursday announced the nomination of Dr. Jerome Adams to be Surgeon General. Dr. Adams currently serves as commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health overseeing the public health protection and laboratory services, health and human services, healthcare quality and regulatory, and tobacco prevention and cessation commissions.


On June 28, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing to "examine opportunities to strengthen protections for student privacy." During the hearing's opening remarks, Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) stated, "as we continue to see technology play a key role in how we conduct educational research, it is time for Congress to have a serious discussion on whether or not the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is keeping all student information safe. Witnesses included: Rachael Stickland (Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Parent Coalition for Student Privacy), Dr. Nathaniel Schwartz (Chief Research and Strategy Officer of Tennessee Department of Education), Dr. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach (Director, The Hamilton Project at Brookings Institution), and Dr. Grover J. Whitehurst (Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, Center on Children and Families at Brookings Institution).


On June 29, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a markup and approved legislative proposals to reform the National Labor Relations Act. The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (H.R. 986 - approved by a vote of 22-16), introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), is intended to protect the sovereignty of Native American tribes from "bureaucratic overreach and ensure tribes have control over their labor relations"; the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 2776 - approved by a vote of 22-16), introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), is intended to "promote worker freedom and restore fairness to union elections"; the Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2775 - approved by a vote of 22-16), introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), aims to "empower workers to control the disclosure of their personal information."

Assess Development

Last week, the State of Louisiana became the 23rd state to launch an ABLE program. The Louisiana ABLE program, named LA ABLE, will be managed by the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LAOFSA) and the Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority (LATTA). Louisiana ABLE Accounts will only be available to eligible Louisiana residents with disabilities. In addition to LA ABLE, there are 22 other states that have launched ABLE programs

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In celebration of Independence Day, Tuesdays with Liz will next air on July 11. However, during this week's recess, Liz urges you to call your Senators and educate them on the importance of Medicaid and how it contributes to independence for millions of Americans. Be sure to see last week's episode featuring Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living, where they spoke about the devastating impact that recent proposed healthcare legislation would have on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.



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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