Disability Policy News

August 17, 2020

Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
                 August 17, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 33

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. COVID-19

 Negotiations on legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis  stalled last week in the wake of President Trump’s  Executive Orders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell  and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed members for the planned August recess, although both have instituted a 24-hour notice to return should a vote be scheduled for COVID-19 legislation. It is unclear when or if negotiations will resume between Congressional leaders and the White House. (Sunday evening, Speaker Pelosi announced she would be calling the House back to session to address issues concerning the United States Postal Service. The timeline of that return and scope of House activities remained unclear as of publication.)


Lawmakers, lawyers, and other stakeholders continue to evaluate the legality and impact of the series of executive actions on COVID-19 relief signed by President Trump last week. The orders aim to suspend the payroll tax collectionprevent evictionscontinue student loan deferrals through at least the end of the year, and provide for partially reviving expanded unemployment insurance. However, members of both parties at the federal and state levels have pushed back on the orders, and Majority Leader McConnell has indicated he is open to resuming negotiations for a bill with his Democratic counterparts.


Plain Language:

  • Lawmakers have stopped working on a COVID-19 package for now, but might start again soon. President Trump made some executive orders, but we don’t know if they can or will change anything.  
    • An executive order is a type of written instruction that presidents use without input from Congress or judges. Executive orders can only be given to federal agencies, not to citizens.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • For a comparison of the House HEROES Act vs the Senate HEALS Act, view these charts developed by the New York Times.
  • Read the full statement from AUCD urging action to protect civil rights.
  • Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

  • list with check marksPresidential Campaign 2020

    Former Vice President and Presumptive Democratic Nominee Joe Biden announced that he has chosen Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate for the 2020 presidential election. Harris, a first-term senator and former state Attorney General from California, is the first Black woman and the first Asian-American to join a major party’s presidential ticket. Harris was long considered a top contender for the Vice Presidency following her own bid for the Democratic nomination, which she ended in December 2019, and Biden’s March announcement that he would choose a woman Vice President. Harris was the first Democratic presidential candidate to release a plan for Americans with disabilities, which focused on expanding access to healthcare through a Medicare “buy-in” option, increasing integrated employment opportunities in the federal government and nationwide, and investing in vocational rehabilitation services through the Department of Education. 


    Also in campaign news, both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention will be held virtually this year, on August 17-20 and August 24-27, respectively.

    Plain Language:

    • Joe Biden is running for President in the Democratic party with Kamala Harris as his Vice President.

    What this means to you:

    • Now that both Biden and Trump have their Vice Presidents, it’s time to think about who you want to vote for President in November.  

    Action steps:

    Seal of the United States Department of Education, colorDepartment of Education

    The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) has filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education alleging that a rule imposed by the Secretary pulls money away from K-12 public schools and the students they serve. The rule, called “Providing Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-public Schools,” could divert over a billion dollars in emergency education funds from the CARES Act (P.L.116-136) from public schools to private schools. The lawsuit argues that Secretary DeVos’s rule harms public school students, including students of color and students with disabilities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and distance learning, by limiting the ability of schools to educate students safely and effectively during COVID-19. 

    Plain Language:

    • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made a rule that gives emergency money from Congress to private schools instead of public schools. A disability rights group called COPAA says the rule is not okay and is suing the Secretary and the Department of Education to stop it.

    What it means to you:

    • Taking money away from public schools to give to private schools can be especially bad for students with disabilities in public schools because schools needs the money to provide quality services.  

    Action Steps:

    • Read the lawsuit filed by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). 
    • Read the press release from COPAA about the lawsuit.
    • Read the press release announcing the rule from the Department of Education. 


    hand putting ballot in boxVoting 2020

    Election Day is Tuesday, November 3! If we’re going to make an impact in every election, we have to be registered to vote. Now is the time to confirm your registration status and to register if needed.   


    Action Steps:

    logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

    This week on the #AUCDPolicyTalk blog, Communications intern and disability advocate Shirley Carrillo reflects on her summer with #AUCD in the remote working environment. 

    Action Steps:

    • Read her post here: https://bit.ly/31QqDNY
    • Do you have a personal or professional connection to policies impacting people with disabilities? We invite you to share your story with us:

    Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

    Tuesdays With Liz

    As the fall semester begins, Susanna Miller-Raines sits down with Liz to talk about Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSIDs). Susanna gives an overview of what TPSIDs are, how you can find out what TPSID programs are available in your state, and some key acronyms in inclusive higher education.



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