Disability Policy News In Brief

August 5, 2019

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August 5, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 30
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Congressional Recess All Month

Members of Congress are in their home districts! Think about hosting a community event and inviting your members of Congress, or invite them to visit your programs or centers.

Action Steps:

  • Reach out to both the district office and DC office with your request and ask to be connected with a scheduler.

Autism CARES

The Autism CARES Act - which has expanded research and coordination, increased public awareness and surveillance, and expanded interdisciplinary health professional training, including LENDs, to identify and support children and youth with Autism and their families - will sunset (expire) on September 30, 2019, without a successful reauthorization.

HR. 1058, which reauthorizes CARES for five years, passed the House on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. CARES is currently being hotlined in the Senate -- this means Senate Leadership is running a notice to both Democrats and Republicans to try to pass it by unanimous consent. We had hoped this would happen before the Senate adjourned for the August Recess. However, at least one Senator's office has paused the process. Senate champions and constituent voices worked to clear the concerns, but the political realities meant the issues were not resolved in time.

Action Steps:

  • Thank the House members of your Congressional delegation. A thank you is a chance to build a relationship and to continue to educate them about what is important to you.
  • Reach out to both of your Senators; share how important reauthorization is before the September 30th sunset.
  • Ask for support for passage upon their return in September.

Budget & Appropriations

The House and Senate passed a budget package which boosts government spending by $320 billion over the next two years. The package would suspend the debt limit through July 2021 and increase spending caps for the next two years. The United States would be on track to add an estimated $1.7 Trillion to the annual deficit over the next decade when compared with the billions in automatic spending cuts that would have kicked in as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Action Steps:

  • To understand the complexity of the budget process, refer back to our previous InBrief deep dive here.
  • Continue to educate your Congressional delegations about the importance of appropriations to the programs and services that impact you.


AUCD submitted public comments to the Department of Heath and Human Services Office for Civil Rights about the proposed change to Section 1557 regarding Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities. A primary concern is that changes to Section 1557 would undermine or eliminate key protections of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) nondiscrimination provision from individuals - particularly people with disabilities - who have experienced discrimination in health care programs and settings.

Action Steps:

  • View our public comment letter here.
  • You are welcome to make comments as well using the following link.
  •  Unsure how to make public comments? Use our friendly tool.

Diagnostic Criteria

AUCD submitted comments to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) strongly opposing a proposed change to the DSM-5 concerning the diagnostic criteria for intellectual disability (ID). The DSM-5 is a guide for clinicians to diagnosis people with a disability. If changed, it may result in a population of people underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed or undiagnosed hindering their ability to access services that match their individual needs. In an attempt to clarify the current criteria for ID, the proposed revision creates greater concern around the understanding of intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. It says - incorrectly - that adaptive functioning is a cause of intellectual functioning. We proposed a change to the DSM-5 that will direct clinicians more clearly in the diagnosis of intellectual disability, which could positively impact eligibility for supports and services.

Action Steps:

  • View our public comment letter here.
  • You are welcome to make comments as well using the following link.
  • Unsure how to make public comments? Use our friendly tool.


Mark Schultz from Nebraska was confirmed by the Senate at the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), an office that provides leadership and fiscal resources to assist state and other agencies to provide vocational rehabilitation (VR) and other services to individuals with disabilities. Prior to his role at the RSA Mr. Schultz was a Deputy Commissioner in the Nebraska Department of Education. He previously served as Nebraska's Director of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Campaign 2020

Last week was the second round of the Democratic Debates. The Democratic National Committee is skipping August and the next debate takes place September 12 and September 13 in Houston at Texas Southern University - a public, historically black university - and will be hosted by ABC News and Univision. The DNC raised the threshold for candidates to qualify to participate, meaning the number of debaters on stage could shrink, setting up a six-week push for candidates to hit the needed benchmarks. To date, seven candidates - Biden, Harris, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Booker, and O'Rourke - have qualified. Klobuchar has qualified in polling, while Yang and Castro have both reached the donor threshold.

This week, we take a look at what Presidential candidates had to say on the recent anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Below are the public statements from those who made them. If you saw others we missed, please share them with us.


Current Office

Post on ADA Anniversary

Donald Trump



Bernie Sanders

Vermont Sen.

"Today, as we commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we must recommit to championing the rights of people with disabilities. As a nation, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that all people with disabilities have their rights protected. We must guarantee people with disabilities the right to live in the community; truly integrated employment that pays a living wage; affordable, accessible housing; and the right to health care, including mental health care and home and community based services and supports. Every person with a disability deserves the right to live in the community and have the services and supports they need to pursue the American Dream. This right must be available to all, free of waiting lists and means tests. It is our moral responsibility to make it happen."

Elizabeth Warren

Massachusetts Sen.

"On the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I'm thinking about my first job out of college-teaching students with speech and learning disabilities at a public school. I saw the difficulties my kids faced navigating a world that wasn't designed for them. That changed with the passage of the ADA-which came about thanks to activists and leaders in Congress like Rep. Major Owens. It not only helped dismantle prejudices about Americans with disabilities, it recognized their right to live, work, and love independently. The ADA is about civil rights, opportunity, and our values-but there's more work to be done. As I celebrate the ADA today, I'm committing to continue the fight to protect these rights every step of the way."

Amy Klobuchar

Minnesota Sen.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 29 years ago today, ensuring accessibility for all Americans and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. It changed millions of lives and we're a better nation because of it."

Beto O'Rourke

Former Texas Rep.

"The ADA is a landmark law-but recently, it has been under attack. 29 years after its passage, let's build a country where Americans with disabilities have full access to education, opportunity, and the workforce, are treated with dignity, and can live to their full potential."

Tim Ryan

Ohio Rep.

"As we celebrate #ADA29 we have to ensure people with disabilities have a seat at the table and help lead as we create NEW policies around climate change, livable wages, health and education."

Marianne Williamson


"Today is the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have found, visiting such places as the Center for the Blind & Opportunity Village (for the intellectually impaired) in Las Vegas, NV, that..." (link to longer Instagram post) (Ms. Williamson' original post was edited after pushback from the disability community, removing any reference to Opportunity Village, a sheltered workshop in Las Vegas.)

Steve Bullock

Montana Gov.

"1 in 5 folks in this country have a disability. 29 years ago today, the ADA began to tear down the walls preventing them from the fair shot they deserve. As Governor, I fought for folks with disabilities to receive equal wages and work without discrimination - but we have a long way to go. On the anniversary of the ADA, we must all recommit to ensuring a fair shot for every American. As President, that's exactly what I'll do."

Joe Biden

Former Vice President

I've always been proud to have cosponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law 29 years ago. Thanks to the vision & persistence of @SenatorHarkin & many disability leaders, this bill was a critical step in the fight for equal rights for people with disabilities.

Kamala Harris

California Sen.

"Twenty-nine years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that every American lives in a fully inclusive and accessible society."

Cory Booker

New Jersey Sen.

"The ADA was signed 29 years ago today. We have more to do to ensure equality for Americans with disabilities who still face high poverty rates & barriers to health care & quality of life. As president, I'll fight for equal rights & inclusion for people with disabilities."

Julian Castro

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary

"For 29 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act has helped defend the rights of disabled Americans. It is integral to building an inclusive, fair, and just nation and as president, I will defend and strengthen it. I've already proposed a start with my #PeopleFirst policies:

-Fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA)

-Reforming school discipline practices that punish students with disabilities

-Repealing the Trump admin's discriminatory policies

As president, I would strengthen housing protections by:

-Defending disability protections

-Ensuring individuals with disabilities have priority for affordable housing

-Expanding Medicare to cover long-term support services My housing plan: (http://bit.ly/castro2020housing)  As many as half of people killed by police are disabled. The system is not protecting disabled people -- it's broken, and we need to fix it. My #PeopleFirst Policing plan would address that directly. Finally, there's so much more that needs to be done to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities, and I am committed to that cause. #ADA29 #PeopleFirst"


Kirsten Gillibrand

New York Sen.

"29 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act codified protections against discrimination based on disability. My presidency will advance this fight, including having disability community representation in my Cabinet. Let's keep working to make our society accessible for all."

Andrew Yang


"For 29 years Americans with disabilities have had a greater sense of dignity and respect. More work to be done but my family is thankful for the #ADA"

Tuesdays with Liz: What is a Congressional Recess?

Members of Congress are already filling up their calendars for the August recess, which lasts through Labor Day. Now is a good time to request meetings with them. Think about hosting a community event and inviting your members of Congress or invite them to visit your programs or centers.

Action Steps:

  • Reach out to both the district office and DC office with your request and ask to be connected with a scheduler.




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





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