Disability Policy News In Brief

December 21, 2018

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December 21, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 192
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Editor's Note: In Brief will take a two week holiday break, returning on January 7th. We wish you a Happy New Year!

Action Step:

  • Consider personal resolutions to build relationships with your Congressional delegation.  Your experience and expertise can build effective disability policy.

Lame Duck

Today the House and Senate are scheduled to complete the 115th Congress, a term that started on January 3, 2017. Many of us will remember this term of Congress for the months of debate about the future of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, the confirmation of two Justices to the

A Continuing Resolution that expires on Feb. 8 was passed by the Senate on the 19th to fund the remaining 25% of the federal budget, including a provision to renew Money Follows the Person (MFP) funding for three months and extending spousal impovershment protections to Medicaid HCBS participants. The President later indicated that he would not sign that version, as it did not include border wall funding.

The House then passed a Continuing Resolution  that also includes a provision to renew MFP funding for three months and extends spousal impoverishment protections to Medicaid HCBS participants, but also includes funding for the wall. At this writing, the fate of that resolution in the Senate is at best uncertain. 

Criminal Justice 

The Senate passed the FIRST STEP Act on December 18th, by a vote of 87 - 12. The House voted 358-36 to approve the legislation on December 20th. This legislation lowers the number of federal inmates by changing sentencing laws, and aims to reduce recidivism by better supporting people who leave prison. The president is expected to sign the bill.

Additional Legislation

The Traumatic Brain Injury Program Reauthorization Act, H.R. 6615, to reauthorize the Traumatic Brain Injury program, was passed by the Senate and now heads to the president for his expected signature.

Work Requirements for SNAP Recipients

After Congress declined to impose work requirements as part of the five-year Farm Bill reauthorization last week, the Department of Agriculture announced this week a proposed rule to make those changes by executive action.

Action Step:


The Final Report from the Federal Commission on School Safety - a group convened by President Donald Trump after the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida - was issued on December 18th. The report had a minimal focus on the role of guns in deadly school shootings. Recommendations included an end to discipline policies meant to curb racial disparities in school discipline, encouragement of coordination between schools and law enforcement, and urging states to adopt "extreme risk protection orders" designed to temporarily restrict firearm access from individuals found to be a danger to themselves or others.

Administration Updates

Gen. James Mattis resigned as Defense Secretary, effective in February.

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

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