2007 August Congressional Recess Action Alert

August 3, 2007

Congress will be on recess and in their home districts until September 4th. This creates a great opportunity to meet with your Members to discuss federal legislative issues that impact people with disabilities and their families. The AUCD Legislative Affairs staff highlights five timely issues below where your voice could make a significant difference. We hope you will pick one or two that are most important to you or because you have a key Member of Congress working on the issue.


If you have any questions please feel free to contact AUCD Legislative Affairs staff at (301) 588-8252. If you are not able to have a face-to-face visit, you can reach your Members of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or you can email them directly through AUCD's Action Center. The Action Center also contains a complete Congressional directory and access to all the bills AUCD monitors. Visitors can also read the bills see if their Members are cosponsors.


Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations

One of the biggest legislative priorities for the House and Senate when they return from recess will be to pass the FY 08 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill before the Oct. 1 end of the fiscal year. The House approved their version of the bill the week of July 13. The full Senate has not yet considered the bill passed by the full committee in June. Both bills contain different increases for programs important to individuals with disabilities and families. However, the President has threatened to veto this bill since both bills provide more money for programs under its jurisdiction than the President proposed. Because of this veto threat Congress may decide to provide a continuing resolution or to wrap the bill into a larger omnibus appropriations bill, a move that could threaten these important increases.

Below are the funding levels in the House and Senate bills for selected programs important to the AUCD network. For more information about additional programs and a full analysis, see the July 16 In Brief.


FY07 Final

House (FY07 Difference)

Senate Committee (FY07 Difference)

Senate - House Difference



33.2 (+0.01)

38.7 (+5.5)


DD Councils


76.7 (+5.0)

77.3 (+5.6)




38.7 (0.0)

42.7 (+4.0)


PNS/Family Support


11.4 (0.0)

15.4 (+4.0)


Family Support Clearinghouse and TA





MCH Block Grant


750.0 (+57.0)

673.0 (-20.0)


Autism and related DD


30.0 (+10.0)*

37.0 (+17.0)**


CDC Center on Birth Defects/DD



128.7 (+4.2)




29,650.0 (+719.0)

29,899.9 (+968.9)


Lifespan Respite Care Act

New law

10.0 (+10)



*Of the $750 million in the MCH BG, 30 million goes to Autism and related DD, including a LEND expansion as part of the Combating Autism Act. **$20 million pulled out of the MCH Block Grant making it a completely new line item for Autism and related DD, including a LEND expansion as part of the Combating Autism Act



  • Please urge your Senators to support the L-HHS-ED appropriations bill when it comes to the floor in the fall.
  • Thank your Representative if they voted for the House Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill. To see how your Representative voted, click this link and choose your state.
  • Please urge your Representatives and Senators to support the highest funding levels in the House and Senate bills for programs that support individuals with disabilities to live, work and play in the community.
  • Talk about the work that you do at your Center, its impact on people, your state, and the country and how important these increases are to accomplish your work and our goals of improving the lives of people with disabilities.


Lifespan Respite Funding

The Lifespan Respite Care Act (PL 109-442) was recently signed into law by President Bush. The Act authorizes competitive grants to states to develop or enhance existing statewide respite programs. However, without appropriations, the law cannot be implemented. Advocates hoped to get $40 million for FY 08. However, it took an amendment by Representatives Fergusson (R-NJ) and Langevin (D-RI) just to get $10 million included in the House FY 08 Labor-HHS-ED appropriation bill. The Senate L-HHS-ED appropriations bill provides no funding.


  • Please urge your Representatives and Senators to retain the $10 million for Lifespan Respite Care in the FY08 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill when the bill is finalized.


Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act of 2007

In March, Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Wayne Allard (R-CO) introduced the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act of 2007 (S.937). This critical legislation provides approximately $83 million in Fiscal Year 2008 to improve access to comprehensive treatments, interventions, and services for individuals with autism and their families. On April 17, Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Elliot Engel (D-NY), and Chip Pickering (R-MS) introduced a companion bill (HR. 1881) in the House of Representatives.

The Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act does the following:

  • Provides supplemental training grants to University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities to increase the capacity to provide interdisciplinary training to professionals providing diagnosis, treatment, interventions and other services to individuals with autism
  • Authorizes funds for up to four new University Centers for Excellence with a priority given to Minority Serving Universities
  • Convenes a national task force to evaluate and report on evidence-based biomedical and behavioral treatments and services
  • Provides grants to states to develop and disseminate evidence-based autism treatments, interventions, supports and services for children and adults
  • Provides funding to protection and advocacy systems to address the needs of individuals with autism and other emerging populations of individuals with disabilities
  • Creates a national clearinghouse to disseminate information on evidence-based treatments, interventions, and services.

We need the House and Senate committees to mark up these bills. The more support there is for the bill, the more likely it is to move quickly through Congress.


  • Please urge your Representatives and Senators to cosponsor the Expanding the Promise to Individuals with Autism Act (H.R. 1881 / S. 937). Although face to face meetings are the best, a sample letter is provided if you want to email your Members through AUCD's Action Center.


ADA Restoration Act

In recent years, the Supreme Court has chipped away at protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Court decisions have created an absurd Catch-22 by allowing employers to say a person is too disabled to do the job but not disabled enough to be protected by the ADA. The ADA Restoration Act would restore the intent of Congress by changing language to prohibit discrimination "on the basis of disability." Representatives Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and James Sensenbrenner(R-WI) recently introduced the ADA Restoration Act (H.R. 3195) on the 17th Anniversary of the ADA. The bi-partisan bill has 153 cosponsors. On the same day, Senators Harkin (D-IA) Specter (R-PA) introduced a companion bill (S. 1881) in the Senate. To help move this bill through Congress, we need more bipartisan co-sponsors.


  • Please urge your Representatives and Senators to cosponsor the ADA Restoration Act (H.R. 3195 / S. 1881).


State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization

Congress is currently debating the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which provides health insurance to millions of low and middle-income children. An estimated 9 million children remain uninsured in the US. Both the Senate and House have now passed reauthorization bills. The Senate version would provide $35 billion in new funding over five years to maintain coverage and add additional children. The House version, the Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act, would provide an additional $50 billion over five years. The House version also contains many other provisions important for people with disabilities. Among these include removing Medicare Part D co-pays for dual eligibles living in the community, protecting needed access to certain drugs under Medicare Part D, and prohibiting the Department of Health and Human Services from issuing new rules that would limit access to important Medicaid rehabilitation and school-based services. There is a difficult road ahead. The House and Senate will need to reach a compromise. Partisan politics and the threat of a Presidential veto will make passage difficult.


  • Please urge your Representatives and Senators to support reauthorization of SCHIP.
  • Educate Members of Congress about how important this program is to families with children with disabilities.