Disability Policy News In Brief

November 19, 2018

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday
November 19, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 187
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Lame Duck

The House and Senate are on recess until Monday, November 26th.

Action Steps:

  • Connect with your Congressional delegation while they are home. Urge them to address MFP grants to states to expand access to Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) to help people who are living in or at risk of entering medical institutions return home. Ask returning members to make Autism CARES reauthorization a priority of the 116th Congress. Use these resource sheets for talking points:

Election Outcomes Continued

With three House races yet to be called as of this writing, Democrats now control 232 seats to Republicans' 200, after flipping 37 GOP-held seats. Florida's Senate results were certified Sunday, with Republican Governor Rick Scott defeating incumbent Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, giving Republicans 53 seats in the upcoming Congress, a net gain of two seats of now.

The Mississippi special election for the final two years of former GOP Sen. Thad Cochran's term is heading to a Nov. 27 run-off after no candidate cleared 50 percent last Tuesday night. Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith currently holds the seat, and is favored in the run-off.

Action Steps:

  • Connect with your incoming Congressional delegation, both incumbents and new members. Introduce yourself, your interests and your expertise. Members will be seeking to understand their district and how issues impact you.

Leadership Roles in the 116th Congress

Decisions continue to be made about leadership for the 116th Congress.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will become House Minority Leader. 
  • Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-IL) were re-elected by voice vote as Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, respectively.

Committee Leadership

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced he will leave his role as Senate Judiciary Chair to chair the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is expected to become the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Next Steps from AUCD's 2018 Conference - We ALL Belong Here! Achieving Inclusive Communities

Hill Day

Congratulations to 193+ members who visited with members of Congress and staff during AUCD 2018. Your voices and relationships have a powerful impact on policy.

Action Steps:

  • Please fill out this post-visit survey to support AUCD's efforts to follow up with offices.

Opportunities for Input from Federal Partner

Several Federal partners who participated in AUCD's 2018 Conference - We ALL Belong Here! Achieving Inclusive Communities - shared opportunities for input related to key efforts. You are encouraged to share your thoughts in the following ways:

  • Johnny Collett, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, shared his vision for engagement as the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) rethinks its Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) system. You can share your input directly: [email protected] 
  • Lisa Kaeser, Director, Office of Legislation and Public Policy, NICHD/NIH, shared that the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has launched a collaborative process to revise and update its strategic plan. You can share your input directly: [email protected].


Civil Rights

Public Charge Rule

The proposed changes to the public charge rule have been published in the Federal Register. The comment period ends December 10, 2018. Our friends at Rooted in Rights have created video resources that illustrate how the change would impact families that include people with disabilities. Making comments is a critical way to impact policy.

Action Steps:



The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (FAA Act), signed by President Trump on October 5, 2018, mandates that the Department establish an advisory committee to address the air travel needs of passengers with disabilities.

Action Step:

It was announced this week that the Department plans this calendar year to post on its website (https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/latest-news) a notice soliciting nominations and applications to serve on this advisory committee. The Department will select individuals based on representativeness and expertise. Consider sharing your expertise on this committee.


Disaster Preparedness

READI for Disasters Act

Senator Bob Casey (PA) plans to introduce the READI for Disasters Act following the Thanksgiving recess with Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Amy Klobuchar (MN) as confirmed co-sponsors. The READI for Disasters Act would establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters to study the needs of individuals with disabilities, older adults and others with access and functional needs throughout emergency preparation and planning, disaster response, recovery and mitigation. Additionally it provides financial support for developing and providing technical assistance and training to state and local emergency managers and disaster relief agencies.

Action Steps:

  • Reach out to your Senators now and ask them to co-sponsor. Staff questions and commitments to co-sponsor should be directed to [email protected]
  • Organizations - local, state and national - can sign on as supporters (contact Josh Dubensky [email protected] to add your organization's name and/or share your letter of support)



Keeping All Students Safe Act

Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act on November 14, 2018. The legislation would:

  • make it illegal for any school receiving taxpayer dollars to seclude children 
  • limit the use of physical restraint to instances when it is necessary for the safety of students and teachers
  • establish minimum safety standards in schools
  • require states to monitor the law's implementation
  • increase transparency and oversight to prevent future abuse of students.

Action Step:

  • Ask members of your congressional delegation to join as cosponsor for this legislation

Proposed Changes to Title IX

The Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos issued proposed new rules on Friday governing the way colleges and universities around the country handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The Department's proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Action Step:

  • Prepare to submit public commits by 
    • reviewing the Department's one-page summary of the proposed Title IX rule, here.
    • reviewing the proposed rule in its entirety, here.

School Choice and Students with Disabilities

The National Council on Disability released two reports on the impact of school choice policies on students with disabilities:

  • Charter Schools -- Implications for Students with Disabilities (PDF
  • Choice and Vouchers -- Implications for Students with Disabilities (PDF


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

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