Disability Policy News

December 7, 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)
                 December 7, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 47

three dollar bills, black and whiteAppropriations

The House and Senate continue to negotiate the budget and appropriations for the federal government in anticipation of the current Continuing Resolution expiring on Friday, December 11th, 2020. The House passed a set of appropriations bills totaling $1.3 trillion in July (H.R.7617). The Senate released their own proposed funding measures in early November, but have not formally introduced any legislation. Negotiations continue between the Democratic-led House and the Republican-led Senate with the goal of a large, omnibus bill to fund the government through the full Fiscal Year 2021 (ends September 30, 2021). However, recent snags have made another Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government into the new year increasingly likely. Either a full-funding omnibus bill or a CR will most likely include short-term extensions for programs such as Money Follows the Person, Independence at Home, and Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment Protections.

Funding levels related to AUCD:


FY2020 Funding

AUCD FY2021 Ask

House-passed Appropriations, 7/31/2020 (H.R.7617)

Senate-proposed funding, FY2021







language says LEND but no LEND number 






















Plain language:

  • The federal government only has funding until December 11th. A funding bill needs to be passed by Congress and signed by President Trump by December 11th, or else the federal government will shut down. Congress is trying to pass a bill that will fund the government until September 30th, 2021, but they might only agree to enough money for a few months.
    • 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 passes a funding bill and stays 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, including the AUCD network.

Action steps:

  • It is helpful to raise the needs for funding during your #AUCD2020 Hill meetings. When you educate members of Congress and staff about the impact of your work, you are sharing how appropriations support people with disabilities and systems in every state.
  • Steps to prepare for the conversations:

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 Relief

Both the recent swell of COVID-19 cases and the impending expiration dates of several economic relief measures have resulted in new energy for a COVID-19 relief package both on Capitol Hill and across the country. Last week, a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers released a proposal for a $908 billion Bipartisan COVID Emergency Relief Framework that has since gained the support of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) maintains that the price-tag of the bipartisan effort is too high, and has instead re-circulated the $500 billion ‘skinny' relief bill previously voted down in the Senate (S.A.2652). With time running out, it is increasingly unlikely that Congress will be able to pass a relief bill before the December recess.

Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities:



 HEROES Act 2.0



'Skinny' relief bill

(S.A. 2652)

Bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Relief Framework


AUCD Priority



Passed the House on 5/15/20.

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

Announced on 12/1/20.


Cost: $2.2 trillion $500 billion $908 billion  


Liability Wavers


Five-year shield from coronavirus related lawsuits.

Short-term federal protection from COVID-19 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.  

$82 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."


$26 billion to be split between nutrition services and agriculture.





Plain language:

  • Congress is trying to pass another COVID-19 relief package before going on their holiday break.

What it means to you:

  • It is unlikely that Congress will pass a COVID-19 relief bill that includes funding to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. 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:

  • Educate your members of Congress and their staff about how important it is the COVID- relief meets the needs of people with disability and their families.
  • Learn more about the Heroes 2.0 Act:
  • Learn more about the ‘skinny' relief bill:
  • Check out a breakdown of the COVID-19 emergency relief framework.
  • 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.
    • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.
  • Share AUCD's top priorities and your stories about the impact of COVID-19 on your life with your members of Congress. 

Seal of the President of the United States, eagle with blue background

Presidential Transition

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris continue to announce White House Senior Staff and their nominees for high-level political appointments. In the White House, President-elect Biden has announced Ron Klain as his Chief of Staff and Jen Psaki as Press Secretary. Vice President-elect Harris has chosen Hartina Flournoy as her Chief of Staff. The incoming administration has also announced high-level nominees for appointments overseeing National Security and the Economy, including Janet Yellen for Secretary of the TreasuryAntony Blinken for Secretary of StateAlejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security, and Avril Haines for the Director of National Intelligence.

Plain language:

  • President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and their staffs are working to be ready to start work on January 20, 2020. Part of getting ready is choosing people to hire for jobs across the government.

What it means to you:

  • A transition creates change in federal policy that impacts the lives of people with disabilities and their families, following the transition and learning about who is working on issues you care about can help prepare us to share our expertise and voices.

Action steps:

medical injection needle and calendar, black and white

COVID-19 Vaccine

With two COVID-19 vaccines likely to be approved within the month, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved a plan for the first phase, dubbed ‘1a', of a COVID-19 vaccine allocation framework. The populations set to receive the initial rounds of COVID-19 vaccination include:

  1. Health care personnel: paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials; 
  2. Long-term care facility residents: adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.

States are now working on finalizing their individual plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccine within the adopted framework with the goal of beginning vaccination within 48-hours of a COVID-19 vaccine's approval. The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) application from Pfizer-BioNTech for their COVID-19 vaccine will be considered for approval on December 10, 2020, and the EUA application from Moderna will be considered on December 17, 2020.

Plain language:

  • The first COVID-19 vaccine might be approved this week. The first people to get the COVID-19 vaccine will be healthcare workers and adults living in long-term care settings, such as a nursing home or group home. 

What this means to you:


  • A vaccine to protect people against COVID-19 might be available soon. The government is working to make sure it is safe. Adults with disabilities who live in long-term care settings will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine sooner than adults with disabilities who live in the community, but every adult will be able to get a vaccine at some point.

Action Steps:

    house and icon of person in wheelchairU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced over $54.7 million in Capital Advance and Project Rental Assistance grants to expand the supply of affordable rental housing for extremely low-income adults with disabilities. HUD has chosen 15 organizations to develop permanent rental housing through the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program and to provide rental assistance.

    Plain language:

  • The government is working to make more accessible affordable housing options in the community for people with disabilities.
Action steps:

Maternal and Child Health Bureau logo: HRSA in blue letters and name of bureau in red. outline of woman holding baby in red on the leftMaternal and Child Health Bureau

The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) within the Health Resources and Services Administration has published a Draft Blueprint of bureau goals to better support children with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and their families. The Draft Blueprint outlines interagency changes to promote health equity, access to services and supports, family/child well-being and quality of life, and financing of services. MCHB has collected public comments in response to the Draft and will publish a final Blueprint.

    Plain language:

  • The federal government is trying to improve how it supports children with special health care needs and their families.
Action steps:

outline of a judge's gavel
Public Charge

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a previous order blocking the public charge rule in several states across the country. The contentious public charge rule, introduced in 2019 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), applies to persons seeking to immigrate to the United States who are likely to require government subsidies such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), long-term Medicaid, or housing assistance. The 9th Circuit concluded that the rule causes financial harm to states and would not promote self-sufficiency, as argued by the Trump Administration. The rule remains in effect in several states, and its future remains uncertain.

Plain language: 

  • The public charge rule has been blocked in several states. Public charge means someone moving to the United States who could depend on the government for support. The rule allows the government not to let people from other countries who may be public charges become United States citizens.

What it means to you:

  • The public charge rule can discriminate against people with disabilities who want to become United States citizens.
Action steps:

AUCD Conference logo - outline of two people standing and one person in wheelchair holding up blue ball, all rainbow#AUCD2020 Conference Policy Events

    The #AUCD2020 Conference begins today, Monday, December 7th! We are excited to share that AUCD is offering several ways to engage with federal policy efforts as part of this year's virtual #AUCD2020 Conference:


  • Closing Hill Plenary: Join us for a pre-recorded Closing Plenary on the final day of the Conference to hear from an array of congressional leaders and legislative champions about their disability-related priorities and policies. This year’s speakers include Senator Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Senator Patty Murray (Washington), and more!
    • Date and time: Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 12:00-1:15 pm EST
    • Location: virtual
    • ASL interpretation and captions will be provided.
  • Virtual Hill Visits: We are pleased to share the #AUCD2020 Virtual Hill Visit Toolkit, which includes all the information you need to plan and conduct a virtual Hill visit with your representatives in Congress.
    • Due to the virtual format, we will not have a single Hill Day, but rather recommend that you schedule a meeting with your representatives between November 4th, 2020, and December 31st, 2020.

Action steps:

logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

"Most importantly, I got to hear about the lived experiences of individuals with disabilities: what works for them, what needs to be improved, and how to support the development of a society where ALL members are valued and allowed to share their gifts and thrive."

This week on #AUCDPolicyTalk, Emily Stevens, a Doctoral Audiology Candidate at The Ohio State University and former LEND Trainee, shares how her experience attending the AUCD Annual Conference in 2019 has motivated her to continue advocating for the rights and needs of the disability community.

Action steps:

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub
Tuesdays with Liz

On this week's vintage #TWL, Liz sits down with AUCD Storytelling Committee Co-chair Dina Johnson to talk about why storytelling is so important in the disability community. Share your story with AUCD today!