Disability Policy News

September 28, 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 28, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 39

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

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House of Representatives would begin work on a new COVID-19 relief package and that Democratic leadership would resume negotiations with White House officials. The new plan is expected to cost about $2.4 trillion dollars, which is $1 trillion less than the House Democrats' HEROES Act (H.R.6800) passed in the House in May and about $1.1 trillion more than the Senate Republicans' 'skinny' relief bill (S.A.2652) proposed in the Senate earlier this month. President Donald J. Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have signaled an interest in passing further COVID-19 relief legislation prior to the November election and have publicly urged Senate Republicans to accept a higher price tag, although it is unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will agree. A draft for the House bill is expected later this week.


Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities in recent legislation: 






'Skinny' relief bill

(S.A. 2652)


AUCD Priority



Passed the House on 5/15/20.

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



Liability Wavers


Five-year shield from coronavirus related lawsuits.

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.  

$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.


$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."




Plain language:

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives are working on a new COVID-19 relief bill. We don’t know what is in the bill yet or if it will be supported by the Senate and White House.

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:

  • Read the 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

President Donald J. Trump announced his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The announcement comes just eight days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at 87 years-old on Friday, September 18th, from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. In the week following her death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump moved quickly to rally the support of Republican Senators and have both publicly promised a confirmation vote as quickly as possible. As of this publication, 51 Republican Senators have voiced their support to vote on a replacement for Justice Ginsburg’s seat this year, which would surpass the simple majority needed to confirm a nominee. Two Republican Senators, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, have joined Senate Democrats in calling for the position to remain open until the Presidential election results are in. 

Plain language:


  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion for equality, died last week. On Saturday, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill her position on the Supreme Court. The Senate will try to vote on this nomination as soon as possible. 

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:


  • AUCD continues to review Judge Barrett's history of decisions and opinions in relationship to priorities for the disability community.
  • Learn more about the process of picking a Supreme Court Justice with our Plain Language guide.
  • 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.

three dollar bills, black and whiteAppropriations

The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) bill to fund the federal government through December 11th, 2020, in a bipartisan vote (359-57). The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (H.R.8337) primarily extends funding levels of fiscal year 2020 appropriation bills, and also includes funding for child nutrition assistance and farm payments that had become sticking points in negotiations. The legislation now goes to the Senate in the hopes of its being passed before the end of the fiscal year on September 30th. Lawmakers may negotiate a more robust appropriations bill in the ‘lame duck’ Congressional session between the elections on November 3rd and the start of the new Congress on January 21st 


Funding levels related to AUCD:


FY 2020 Funding

AUCD FY 21 Ask

Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R.8337)






















Plain language:

  • The House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the government until December 11th. The Senate needs to pass the bill before September 30th or else the federal government will shut down.
    •  A ‘shut down’ is when the federal government has to close down because Congress has not passed a bill to pay for it.
What it means to you:

  • It is important that the federal government stay open so that people can continue to access government services. This money is spent on different programs that support education, healthcare, job training, housing, and more. 

Action steps:

carton of milk and apple, black and whiteNutrition Assistance

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended flexibilities for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) throughout the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. These flexibilities allow for continued remote services to reduce in-person interactions and remove barriers to accessing WIC throughout the pandemic.

Additionally, The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (H.R.8337) passed in the House of Representatives includes an additional $8 billion in nutrition aid by extending the Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program, and extending WIC flexibilities through September 2021. The P-EBT program, authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6201), allows for flexibilities and increases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for households where children have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to continued school closures.


Plain language:

  • Many people are struggling to pay for food for their families during COVID-19. The federal government is making it easier for some families with low incomes and children to pay for their food. 

Action steps:


icons of blue people in shape of the United States with words 'Census 2020' in the middle2020 Census

A preliminary injunction was secured to halt the Trump administration’s plan to end the 2020 Census count a month early. The nationwide order mandates that the Census Bureau continue in-person efforts such as knocking on doors through the original deadline of October 31st, 2020. The case was brought by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center, and Public Counsel, and argued that in-person efforts are critical to reaching hard-to-count communities which include many minority communities. The Justice Department has filed a notice that they will appeal the order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Plain language:

  • The Census Bureau will continue to use in-person methods to count people for the 2020 Census.
    • The Census is a count of every person in the United States and happens every ten years. It is used for many important decisions in the government, such as how many Representatives in the House of Representatives each state gets, and how much money local communities receive from the federal government for public services such as Medicaid.
What it means to you:

  • Collecting information for the Census in-person is good for many people, including people with disabilities, who have not already filled out their Census forms. If you have not already completed the Census, now is the time!

Action steps:


black symbol of building to look like hospitalHealth Care

On Thursday the President signed an executive order, An America-First Healthcare Plan, that declares it is the policy of the United States for people with preexisting health conditions to be protected. The order did not provide details on how to ensure such protections without either leaving the ACA in place or passing a new comprehensive health care bill. The executive order also directs Congress to pass legislation to end the practice of surprise billing — when a person goes to a hospital inside their insurance network but is nonetheless hit with medical bills because workers in the hospital are out of network – without proposing any specific legislation. 

Plain language:

  • The President signed an order to show his plans on healthcare. Actions are needed to make the policy in the order, but the president has not made any action steps.  

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:

two people with two speech bubbles, black and whitePresidential Debate

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will have their first presidential debate on Tuesday, September 29, from 9 to 10:30 p.m. ET. It will be held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace. The debate will be broadcast on all major networks and their corresponding streaming channels, as well as on C-SPAN.



What this means to you:


  • The debate is a chance to learn more about each candidate and to think about who you want to vote for in November.

Action steps:


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

The Department of Education has proposed priorities and definitions to fund an American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Training and Technical Assistance Center (AIVRTTAC) (CFDA 84.250Z). The purpose of the proposed Center is to improve the capacity, innovation, and effectiveness of the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) by training and providing technical assistance to AIVRS staff and counselors. The public is invited to submit comments.



Action steps:


  • Read the official notice for further information on the proposal. 
  • Submit your comments no later than October 13, 2020, to [email protected]; or by mail to: Jerry Elliott, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5097, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2800. 

logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

“Sometimes I feel frustrated about how long it takes to make change, then I am reminded that Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, 'real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.' I look forward to honoring her legacy by acting to usher in an anti-ableist future that benefits us all.”

This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Dr. Amy Houtrow, a professor and Endowed Chair in the Department of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation for Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, honors the late Justice Ginsburg’s legacy by offering us a path forward in disability justice. 



Action steps:


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

Tuesdays With Liz

In this week's vintage #TWL, Liz discusses how to overcome barriers to voting this election. While people may tell you that people with disabilities can't and shouldn't vote, you CAN and SHOULD vote on November 3rd.


Subscribe to Updates  Browse Archived Issues


For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For definitions of terms, please see AUCD's List of Policy Definitions