Disability Policy News In Brief

January 21, 2019

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January 21, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 3
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The ongoing partial government shutdown has shifted the Congressional calendar, with the House and Senate remaining in Washington this week instead of a previously planned district work week.

Action Step

  • Identify your member's district office closest to you; call or visit, sharing what issues are important to you in the 116th Congress. District staff are critical folks to have close relationships with.

The President signed the  Government Employee Fair Treatment Act on January 16th, guaranteeing furloughed federal employees will be paid retroactively as soon as possible after the lapse in appropriations ends.

Money Follows the Person

H.R.259 - Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019 passed the House by voice vote on January 8th. It includes a provision to renew Money Follows the Person (MFP) funding for three months and to extend spousal impoverishment protections to Medicaid HCBS participants.  The bill passed the Senate, also by voice vote, on January 17th, and now goes to the president for his signature.

Action Step

  • Reach out to your Representative and both Senators to thank them for their support and commitment to three months of funding. Share that a longer-term solution should be a priority for this Congress.
Civil Rights

The Disability Integration Act (DIA), was introduced concurrently in the Senate by Senator Schumer (S.117) and by Representative Sensenbrenner (HR. 555) in the House on January 15th.  This legislation would prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and supports. Advocates are pushing for passage by the House before July 26,2019, the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Action Step:


The Raise the Wage Act, H.R.582 and S. 150, was introduced on January 16th.  The bill would more than double the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by 2024. Of note to the disability community, the act also sunsets the much-criticized provision allowing employers to pay workers with disabilities a subminimum wage through certificates issued by the Department of Labor.  The proposal, which has 31 co-sponsors in the Senate and 181 co-sponsors in the House, all Democrats, is unlikely to become law with the Senate in Republican hands and President Trump in the White House.

Action Step:

  • Reach out to your congressional delegation share your support for ending subminimum wage. 


The Autism Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral (House and Senate) group of policy makers interested in Autism.  Every member of Congress received an invitation to join. 

Action Step:

  • Reach out to your Congressional delegation to share about your work and highlight the value of their membership. 

Congressional Turnover

Last week, Representative Tom Narino (R-PA-12), announced that he would be resigning the seat to which he was recently re-elected, effective January 23rd, to accept a job in the private sector. A special election will be held to fill the seat.

The seat representing North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District remains open following credible allegations of election interference. The state's election board has not yet announced a resolution to fill the seat.

Race for 2020

The following notable candidates have filed to run for president with the Federal Election Commission or announced exploratory committees:

  • Kamala Harris (D), U.S. Senator from California, annouced that she is running for president on January 21, 2019.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (D), U.S. Senator from New York, announced that she was running for president on January 15, 2019.
  • Julian Castro (D), former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy on January 12, 2019.
  • Tulsi Gabbard (D), U.S. Representative from Hawaii, announced that she had decided to run for president on January 11, 2019.
  • Elizabeth Warren (D), U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, announced she had formed an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018.
  • Richard Ojeda (D), state senator from West Virginia, filed to run for president on November 11, 2018.
  • John Delaney (D), former U.S. Representative from Maryland, filed to run for president on August 10, 2017.

Action Step:

  • All candidates need to hear from you about the importance of including disability as a primary policy consideration. If you are in a state where a candidate is from, consider engaging with them and the campaign around disability policy. If you are in a state that is receiving visits from candidates, attend events and raise critical issues around disability policy.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

This week, Liz talks with Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who explains what civil and human rights are, and some of the priorities for The Leadership Conference in 2019, many of which include advocating for the disability community




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

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