Disability Policy News In Brief

October 21, 2019

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
October 21, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 41
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Don't let ONDEAM picture from DOLctober pass by without sharing your employment story! It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The 2019 NDEAM theme is "The Right Talent, Right Now."




Action Steps: 

  • Call, tweet and/or meet with your Members of Congress and tell them why their support of Employment First and competitive, integrated employment is so important.

Higher Education

Last week, House Education and Labor Chairman, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), introduced the College Affordability Act (HR 4674). It is a comprehensive proposal "to cut the cost of college, increase the quality of higher education, and expand opportunity to a new generation of students." This version is similar to last year's Aim Higher Act (HR 6543), yet differs from last month's introduction from Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of S 2557. Important pieces to the disability community include an addition of the creation of Offices of Accessibility and strengthening of language to postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more by reading the Inclusive Higher Education Committee's Recommendations.
  • Contact your Representatives to share about the impact of your postsecondary program. Use our friends at Think College's Resources.  

Public Charge

There have now been five rulings blocking the proposed changes to the public charge rule that would make it more difficult for immigrants who rely on public assistance to obtain legal status. The proposed changes to the public charge rule have been released in the Federal Register. Lawsuits filed by 21 states and the District of Columbia argued that the new regulations discriminate against low-income people from developing countries and undermine the well-being of children whose families might avoid using nutritional, health and other programs. Members of the disability community, including AUCD, have filed amicus briefs in WA, CA, NY and Cook County, IL.

Action Steps:

  • Protecting Immigrant Families has created an easy to ready impact guide to share widely.
  • Get the latest updates here.

Disaster Relief

The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act (HR 3702) introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX) in July is likely to move to the House floor soon. This bill would shorten the amount of time it takes to get diaster funding to those who need it and increase oversight on funding used. The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) is taking the lead on garnering more support. The DHRC is also now working on getting co-sponsors on the Senate bill (S. 2301) and is asking for grassroots help in soliciting co-sponsors from targeted impact states including NC, SC, MO and LA. 

Action Steps:

  • Use this script to reach out to your Senators: "I am writing to encourage [Sen. XXXX] to co-sponsor the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act (S. 2301), introduced by Senators Young (R-IN) and Schatz (D-HI). From my experience working to recover from [name/description of disaster], I've seen how the slow pace of federal disaster recovery programs impacts the effectiveness and speed of our state's efforts to rebuild. By permanently authorizing the CDBG-DR program, this bill would shorten the amount of time it takes to get important disaster funding to those that need it. The bill also increases the level of oversight on federal disaster funding and increases transparency to make sure the money is being used effectively. This is an important piece of legislation to all of us working to help our state recover from [disaster] and I hope that [Sen. XXXX] shows their support by becoming a co-sponsor.


Last week, Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ), Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA) and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) introduced the Helping Seniors Afford Health Care Act, H.R. 4671, a bill that would increase access to affordable health care for senior citizens. This proposes expanding the Medicare Savings Program up to 200% of poverty and encourages automatic enrollment.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more from the members' press release here.
  • A background memo that includes a summary of the bill is here.


The Kaiser Family Foundation has released their new report on their 50-state Medicaid budget survey. Findings indicate steady levels of enrollment in Medicaid with increases in spending. Survey results identified increasing costs for prescription drugs, provider rate increases, and pressures from the aging population and long-term care costs as factors in total Medicaid spending and increases.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about the findings here.
  • Understand the complexities of Medicaid here.  

Social Security

There has been increased engagement in the House for The Social Security 2100 Act (HR 860) introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-CT) which sets a more realistic cost-of-living adjustment in Social Security, which is important for people with disabilities. It also strengthens protections for low income workers and workers with disabilities. There is engagement to move this legislation to the Ways and Means Committee for a mark-up and vote out of the House this fall.

Action Steps:

Congressional Openings

There are four seats in Congress that have/will have vacancies to fill before the scheduled 2020 general election:

  • Rep. Elijah Cummings of the 7th District (D-MD) passed away last week. Republican Governor Larry Hogan has 10 days to issue a proclamation stating the dates of special primary and general elections to fill the vacancy. Under MD law, the special primary election shall be held on a Tuesday that is at least 65 days after the proclamation was issued and the special general election shall be held on a Tuesday that is at least 65 days after the primary.
  • Rep. Sean Duffy of the 7th District (R-WI) resigned effective September 23, 2019. A special election to fill the seat will likely be held in April or May of 2020. 
  • Rep. Chris Collins of the 27th District (R-NY) also resigned effectively immediately in September, one day before pleading guilty to federal insider trading charges. Dates for special elections to fill the seat have not yet been determined, but will likely be in Spring of 2020.
  • Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is resigning at the end of 2019 due to health issues.


  • Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fl) is the 18th House member (14 Republicans and 4 Democrats) to announce retirements following the 116th Congress.

Action Steps:

  • Centers in FL, MD, WI, GA and NY have an opportunity to engage with candidates during the upcoming elections on disability issues.
  • Make sure you are registered so you can vote.

Budget & Appropriations

Congress has five weeks to reach an agreement on full year Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding levels before the current stop-gap continuing resolution (CR) expires on Nov. 21, 2019. The House has sent the Senate new totals for the 12 annual appropriations bills. Negotiations continue.

Action Step:

  • This is an opportunity to contact your members of Congress about your center's appropriations request. Share with them about the work of your center and the need for continued federal funding to make an impact in your state.

Policy at AUCD's Annual Conference

The AUCD policy team is excited to see you in a month at our Annual Conference! Don't forget to schedule your Hill Visits for Wednesday, November 20th.

Action Steps:

  • Let us know what Hill visits you have. By completing this survey, we will be able to prepare packets for you to take to your meetings.

AUCD Policy Talk: Your Voice in Policy

logo of AUCD Policy Talk  AUCD has launched AUCD Policy Talk! Join us in reading our first blog post. As someone interested in disability policy, we ask you to consider writing and submitting a blog post.

Action Steps:

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