Disability Policy News In Brief

December 17, 2018

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December 17, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 191
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Lame Duck

The House and Senate are in the last weeks of the 115th Congress. The "end" date is largely dependent on how the budget is resolved.


The deadline to resolve the remaining 25% of the federal budget is Friday, December 21. On Tuesday, December 11, the President met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) to discuss a deal over government funding. The President is demanding that any spending package include $5 billion for a border wall. Senator Schumer says that Democrats won't budge from their offer of $1.3 billion. Possible paths forward include:

  • A Continuing Resolution (CR) running through the day after Christmas.
  • A CR running through January 3, the first day of the new Congress.
  • A CR lasting until late January, February or even May.
  • A CR lasting through the rest of FY 2019 - to September 30.

Farm Bill

Agreement was reached on the 2018 farm bill, which authorizes agricultural assistance and nutrition programs for the next five years. The agreement dropped a proposal to tighten food stamps restrictions. The Senate passed the final agreement on December 11 by a vote of 87-13, and the House passed it on December 12 by a vote of 369-47. The bill awaits the President's expected signature.

Action Step:

  • Reach out to your Congressional delegation. Thank them for protecting critical access to nutrition programs that serve our communities.

Congressional Accountability Act

The House and Senate on Thursday passed legislation that will reform the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995. Reforms include:

  • Lawmakers will be personally liable for harassment and retaliation settlements they make, even if they leave office;
  • Elimination of a 30-day counseling period, a 30-day mediation phase and a 30-day "cooling off" period required for victims of sexual harassment; 
  • Requirement for an annual report on settlements, including noting if a member was personally liable and settlements involving members or senior staff to the House and Senate Ethics Committees. 

Money Follows the Person

The House passed the IMPROVE Act (H.R. 7217) on December 11. The bill reauthorizes Money Follows the Person (MFP) with three months of funding and includes both a slimmed down version of the ACE Kids Act and an extension of spousal impoverishment protections to Medicaid HCBS participants. The bill passed by a vote of 400-11.

Action Steps:

  • Call and thank your Representative for their support of Money Follows the Person and for passing the IMPROVE Act.
  • Contact both your Senators to express your concern about the expiration of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program and urge them to vote yes on the IMPROVE Act (H.R. 7217) that passed in the House.

Additional Legislation Finalized and Sent to the President

  • S. 2465 - Sickle Cell Disease and Other Heritable Blood Disorders Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act of 2018 
  • S. 943 - Johnson-O'Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act
  • S. 3029 - PREEMIE Reauthorization Act of 2018
  • H.R. 1318 - Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018, as amended

Resolution of Note Passed

  • H. Res. 1157 - Reaffirming the strong commitment of the United States to the countries and territories of the Pacific Islands region

Criminal Justice 

The Senate plans to expedite consideration next week of the FIRST STEP Act (S. 3747). This legislation intends to lower the number of federal inmates by changing sentencing laws, and to reduce recidivism by better supporting people who leave prison.

Administration Updates

  • Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been selected to become President Trump's third chief of staff, replacing John Kelly.
  • Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has submitted his resignation, effective at the end of the year.

Public Charge Rule

Monday, December 10 was the deadline for submitting comments on the proposed changes to the public charge rule. Over 210,889 comments were submitted, including AUCD's formal comments.

Action Steps:

  • Turn your comments into a letter to your Congressional delegation for the 116th Congress. Share with them your priorities around access to immigration.

Health Care

On Friday, Federal District Court Judge Reed C. O'Connor ruled that the Affordable Care Act's individual coverage mandate is unconstitutional, and that the rest of the law therefore cannot stand. His decision in Texas v. United States sided with a group of 18 Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors who brought the case. The decision will be appealed and doesn't immediately affect Americans' coverage. Insurance contracts in place for 2019 will remain in force, regardless of the appeal's outcome.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Happy Holidays from Liz and AUCD! Join us as Liz shares her favorite five Tuesdays with Liz of 2018.

Watch Liz's Favorites of 2018:



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

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