Disability Policy News

February 8, 2021


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)
                 February 8, 2021   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 5

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 Senate and House of Representatives approved a budget resolution on Friday that creates a path for COVID-19 relief efforts via budget reconciliation. This process allows lawmakers to pass a relief package with only a simple majority. Democrats currently hold the majorities in both the House and Senate. It is expected that most of President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package will pass.

The process of budget reconciliation does not allow for policy changes, only changes to funding lines. The process is expected to take several weeks and even months as lawmakers negotiate details. Because of how budget reconciliation works we will not see detailed legislative language prior to passage. As currently proposed, the budget resolution includes $9.7 billion for Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services and includes adult dependents within the recipients of the $1400 Economic Impact Payments.

While lawmakers work through the budget reconciliation process, it is also possible that they will be able to negotiate a COVID-19 relief package passed through the typical legislative. President Biden and a bipartisan group of lawmakers continue to work on a potential COVID-19 relief package in place of the budget resolution. A bipartisan approach will require agreement of 60 Senators instead of the 50 Senators needed for budget reconciliation.

Plain language:

  • Congress is working to pass COVID-19 relief. The goal is to pass it in March.
What it means to you:

  • Right now, there is some funding for the disability community in the COVID-19 relief proposal. However, continued advocacy will be needed to make sure that funding is passed. Now is the time to contact your Members of Congress and tell them what you need, for example your Home- and Community-Based Services, stimulus payments, or education.
Action steps:

black and white image of capitol dome117th Congress

Lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have been busy introducing new legislation and reintroducing legislation from the previous Congress that did not pass. Many of these bills would directly impact the disability community if passed. Below are some of the pieces of legislation being introduced connected to AUCD's legislative priorities that will be important to track in the 117th Congress:

COVID-19 Relief
COVID HCBS Relief Act (H.R.525, S.151): a bill to provide an emergency increase in federal funding for state Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS).
All Dependents Count Act: Senator Tina Smith and Representative Angie Craig propose to expand the definition of dependents to include children younger than 19, college students below the age of 24, disabled adults and qualified relatives, ensuring these people are included in economic stimulus payments.
Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act (S.240): a bill to appropriate emergency funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), early childhood education programs, and the Assistive Technology Act of 1998.

Plain language:

  • Members of Congress are coming up with many ideas for laws, including to for COVID-19 relief. 
What it means to you:

  • Many of the bills being introduced by Members of Congress would impact the lives of people with disabilities if voted into law. It is important to see which bills you support or don't support and share your expertise and voice with your Member of Congress. 
Action steps:

  • You can track all legislation introduced in Congress on congress.gov.
  • Share your expertise, experience, and thoughts with your Members of Congress. 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.
  • Consider sharing AUCD's Disability Policy Priorities for 2021 with your Members of Congress.
  • You may wish to educate your members about the Congressional Autism Caucus. They can view the list of current caucus members here. Members who wish to learn more or wish to join can contact Kate Werley with Rep. Doyle's office ([email protected]), or Kelsey Griswold with Rep. Smith's office ([email protected]).

medical injection needle and calendar, black and whiteCOVID-19 Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is unique as a one-dose shot, as opposed to the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer/BionTech shots. It can also be stored in most standard refrigerators, easing the transportation and distribution needs. The FDA will review the vaccine's efficacy and safety in a public meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on February 26th. If the vaccine is recommended by the Committee for emergency use, then Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Janet Woodcock, will make a final decision.

Plain language:

  • There may be a third COVID-19 vaccine available soon. This vaccine would only need one shot.
What it means to you:

  • If the new vaccine is approved, you may be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine sooner. It is important to keep checking with your state's Department of Health to see when you are able to get a COVID vaccine and how.
Action steps:

three dollar bills, black and whiteFederal Reserve Community Reinvestment Act Regulation 

The Federal Reserve System (Board) is seeking public comment on modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulatory and supervisory framework. The disability community is encouraged to submit comments so that revised CRA rules provide greater clarity and guidance for regulated banks to respond to the historical patterns of exclusion and lack of fair and equal access to credit, capital, and financial services for low- and moderate-income individuals with disabilities in underserved neighborhoods.

Under CRA, banks have a role and responsibility to respond with investment, lending and services to help support the economic recovery of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods' populations. The disability community strongly supports the goal for CRA regulation to clearly include individuals with disabilities. Modernization is long overdue for some 22 million working-age adults with disabilities and one in five families with a member with a disability who are disproportionately represented among households living in poverty. Comments must be received on or before February 16, 2021.

Action steps:

  • Comments are due February 16, 2021, and can be submitted here.
  • Talking points:
    • The past failure to require banks to disaggregate reporting data by gender/race/ethnicity or disability has had the impact of failing to compel banks to address the historical lack of access and equitable treatment of sub-populations within low-income communities.
    • No bank should receive an outstanding rating without both the Community Development and Retail Services Subtests demonstrating a direct response to identified community needs of people with disabilities. Quantitative and qualitative data should be identified and analyzed regarding utilization of retail banking products and services and community development financing that directly responds to needs of individuals with disabilities within and across assessment areas.
    • A list of CRA activities should be included in the final rule that contains specific examples of people with disabilities benefitting from investments, lending and/or service activities. Such a list would begin to provide regulated financial institutions specific ways to meet the needs of this underserved population. Such a list could be developed with input from the disability and financial communities.
    • Banks should receive CRA credit for investment in workforce development activities including apprenticeships, internships, on-the-job skills training and skill certifications that are vitally important to those with disabilities. Workforce development activity should be identified separately, rather than simply as a subpart of economic development activities.
  • AUCD tips for submitting comments.

Seal of the President of the United States, eagle with blue backgroundBiden Administration

Appointments and confirmations to staff the new administration continue. To date the following Cabinet Level positions have received Senate confirmation:

  • Secretary of the Treasury: Janet Yellen
  • Secretary of Defense: Lloyd Austin
  • Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines
  • Secretary of State: Antony Blinken
  • Secretary of Transportation: Pete Buttigieg
  • Secretary of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas
Additional agency level appointment announcements include:

  • The National Council on Disability (NCD) announced Anne C. Sommers McIntosh as its new executive director. 
  • Department of Education announced a second group of appointees.
  • Department of Transportation announced additional appointees.
  • Environmental Protection announced additional appointments.
  • Department of the Interior announced additional appointments.

Plain language:

  • President Biden continues to appoint people who will serve our country during his administration.
What it means to you:

  • The transition creates new leaders in federal agencies. The work of these agencies will create changes in federal policy that impacts the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
Action steps:

  • Continue to follow news from the Biden Administration at whitehouse.gov.

black and white image of capitol dome

The second Senate Impeachment Trial for former President Donald J. Trump will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9, 2021, at 1 pm. The House of Representatives charged former President Trump with incitement of insurrection following the rally and subsequent takeover of the Capitol Building on January 6th. The trial will include arguments from the Democratic House impeachment managers and former President Trump's defense team, a period of questioning from Senators, and time for Senators to speak on the Senate floor. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the trial. Senate rules require 67 votes to convict. If that happens, a second vote would likely follow, barring Trump from holding public office again in the future.

Plain language:

  • The second impeachment trial for President Trump will begin in the Senate tomorrow, February 9th, at 1 pm.
Action steps:

outline of U.S. Capitol Building in blueDisability Policy Seminar

The Disability Policy Seminar and the pre-DPS events for the AUCD network will be entirely virtual this year.

  • The AUCD events will be virtual on March 19 and April 16. You may register for those free events now. 
  • Disability Policy Seminar will be April 19, 2021 to April 22, 2021. The cost to students and self-advocates is $135, and $225 for all others. Stay tuned for a full schedule and registration!
The Disability Policy Seminar offers the opportunity for passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to come together and learn about key federal issues that affect them most. After a wide range of sessions offering training and learning, participants will learn how best to engage with their Members of Congress and be given opportunities to do so. You are welcome to register for both the AUCD events and the Disability Policy Seminar or for either.

Plain language:

  • The Disability Policy Seminar will be a virtual event from April 19, 2021 - April 22, 2021. You will be able to register for it soon.
  • The AUCD Prevents will be virtual on March 19 and April 16. You may register for those free events now.
Action steps:

logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

"Telling stories about successful placement and work done by individuals with disabilities in competitive integrated work environments is an important tool for educating our legislators about the desire of individuals not only to have meaningful work but also to be valued contributors to society."

Now on AUCD Policy Talk, former LEND Trainee Carolyn Coe advocates for ending subminimum wages for individuals with disabilities.

Action steps:

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

This week on vintage #TWL, Liz talks to Dr. Ruby Natale of the Mailman Center for Child Development, a UCEDD at the University of Miami, about a video series the center developed to help kids learn about social distancing and masks.

Check out the videos and share with a young friend you know!