Disability Policy News

September 21, 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)
                 September 21, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 38

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

A bipartisan plan for COVID-19 relief from the House of Representatives’ “Problem Solvers Caucus” did little to move the political gridlock that has stalled legislative action addressing the ongoing public health and economic crises. The “Mrch to Common Ground” COVID relief framework was announced with the support of 25 Democratic and 25 Republican Representatives with the intent of forging a path for bipartisan compromise. While not a formal piece of legislation, the framework calls for $1.5 trillion in new funding for COVID-19 testing and healthcare, expanded unemployment insurance, school and child care, direct stimulus checks, election support, and other areas of need. The framework immediately hit roadblocks from Democratic leadership, who maintain that at least $2 trillion in relief spending is necessary, and bicameral Republican members, who prefer a price-tag under $1 trillion. President Trump and his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows signaled their support for the framework and publicly urged Republican lawmakers to back a large COVID-19 relief bill. 


Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities: 





'Skinny' relief bill

(S.A. 2652)

"March to Common Ground" framework


AUCD Priority


Passed the House on 5/15/20.

Voted down in the Senate on 9/10/20.

Announced on 9/15/20.



Liability Wavers


Five-year shield from coronavirus related lawsuits.

"Enhanced protections" for entities which follow OSHA guidelines.

No liability waivers under ADA and other civil rights legislation.



$90 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. 

$105 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA.  

$15 billion for childcare, $100 billion for K-12, $30 billion for higher education. None tied to IDEA. 

$12 billion in funding specifically for IDEA.  


Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS)

Investment to support wages, services, leave, and related critical needs to support access.


None, although $500 billion investment in state and local aid could provide support.

$20 billion in funding for HCBS.



 Disabilities network

$10 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).



$30 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).



 $10 billion for nutrition services and increased flexibility to support greater access for people with disabilities.

Requirement for CDC Field Study Pertaining to Health Inequities, including "the impact of disability status on health care access and disease outcomes."


$11 billion for nutrition services.


$30 billion for healthcare provider support, including telehealth expansion.





Plain language:

  •  A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers from the House of Representatives worked together to make a plan for COVID-19 relief. However, many other Democratic lawmakers think the plan costs too little, and many other Republican lawmakers think the plan costs too much.

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:

  •  Learn more about the “March to Common Ground” COVID relief framework:
  • 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.

  • seal of the United States Supreme Court United States Supreme Court

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday, September 18, 2020. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. Justice Ginsburg was a pioneer and champion for equality. She was at the top of her law school class, created real change in her founding work at the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, and was confirmed to our nation’s highest court in 1993. While best known for her work to ensure gender equality, Justice Ginsburg’s work had a profound impact on disability rights. She authored the majority opinion in Olmstead v L.C., a decision which held that people with disabilities have a right to live in communities, not segregated in institutions. 


    A strong believer in civic engagement, Justice Ginsburg said “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.” The voices of many historically marginalized people, including the disabled, have increased in number and volume as a result of her life’s work. AUCD mourns her passing.


    Her death creates an opening on the Court. The timing of the opening and how the last opening in an election year was handled have created a complicated political challenge. Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara before her death: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” 


    As President Trump prepares to name his nominee, it is unclear if a vote to confirm would be held before the Nov. 3 election, or before new senators or a president would take office in January. For the process to be delayed, four Republicans would likely need to join Democrats to prevent a vote. At this writing Senators Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Collins (R-Maine) have indicated that they will support delay until after the election.


    Plain language:


    • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a champion for equality, died on Friday. President Trump plans to name a possible replacement for her position on the Supreme Court soon. 

    What it means to you:


    • The Supreme Court impacts disability justice with rulings on many issues that impact rights and lives including health care, employment, education, and community living.  Who fills the empty seat will be important for many years.

    Action Steps:


    • Each U.S. Senator has a vote in the confirmation.  You can share your thoughts with both of your Senators.Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators
      • You can also use this easy tool to find your Senators.

    seal of U.S. Commission on Civil RightsU.S. Commission on Civil Rights

    The United States Commission on Civil Rights published a report calling for an end to sub-minimum wage practices for employees with disabilities authorized under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Under Section 14(c), employers can receive a federal certificate to pay employees with disabilities below the minimum wage. The commission found that the exemption leads to “exploitative and discriminatory” job programs for workers with disabilities despite proponents’ claims that it can lead to employment outside of the subminimum wage context. The commission recommends Congress repeal Section 14(c) through a planned phaseout, expand funding for supported employment services, and assign civil rights oversight throughout the phaseout. Several states have already passed legislation phasing out subminimum wage certificates: Vermont, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada. While federal legislative efforts have thus far failed, the report has led to renewed interest in the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (S.260 and H. 873) introduced in both chambers last year.

    Plain Language:

    •  A new report from the United States Commission on Civil Rights says that all people with disabilities who work should be paid the minimum wage. The report tells Congress to end the law that lets employers pay people with disabilities less than minimum because they have disabilities. 

    What it means to you:

    •  This report is good news for the disability community because it recognizes the rights and needs of people with disabilities who work. We must tell Congress that it’s time to end Section14(c), the law that says it’s okay to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

    Action Steps:

    hand putting ballot in boxVoting 2020

    Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd! Early and mail in voting has started in many states. If we’re going to make an impact in every election, we have to be registered to vote and your have to vote.. Now is the time to confirm your registration status and to register if needed. Many states have upcoming voter registration deadlines, so confirm your registration today!


    Action Steps:

    logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

    “The bottom line? Stay strong to what you believe in, know that voting is a right and a privilege, and always, always remember: your vote is YOUR VOTE.”


    This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Lauren Blachowiak, the 2020/21 AUCD Disability Policy Fellow, and Liz Weintraub, AUCD’s Senior Advocacy Specialist, share an FAQ on voting rights for people with disabilities.


    Action steps:

    Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

    Tuesdays With Liz

    In this week’s vintage #TWL, we celebrate National Voter Registration Day tomorrow, September 22nd, with a look back at Liz’s interview with Michelle Bishop, the Disability Advocacy Specialist for Voting Rights with the National Disability Rights Network. 


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