AUCD Legislative News InBrief

October 8, 2007


AUCD staff attended a briefing by staff of Sens. Harkin (D-IA) and Specter (R-PA), Chairman and Ranking Minority Members of the L-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee regarding their strategy for moving the largest and most controversial of funding bills.  Their current plan is to take up the bill that funds the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education on the Senate floor the week of October 15.  President Bush has threatened to veto the bill as passed by the Committee because it proposes to spend $11 billion more than the President's proposed budget for these programs in FY 08.  One Senate staff compared this figure as being less than the amount spent each month for the war in Iraq.  AUCD is urging the President to support the bill when it comes to his desk as it provides small, but urgently needed increases to programs important to individuals with disabilities and their families.  The level of funding proposed in the President's budget is $3.5 billion below last year's funding level and would force cuts to education, social services, employment, and research programs important to the AUCD network.  AUCD will be contacting the network soon with more information about how you can help move the L-HHS-ED funding bill.



President Bush vetoed the SCHIP reauthorization bill last week.  Congress will attempt to override the Presidential veto.  The bill will first return to the House for a vote on October 18.  Democratic leaders in the House say they need 15 Republicans who voted against the bill, in addition to the 45 who supported it, to override Bush's veto. Their calculation assumes that most of the eight Democrats who voted against the bill will change their position on a veto override. GOP leaders are confident they have 146 votes needed to sustain the veto.  You can see how your Representative voted on the SCHIP Reauthorization bill through the AUCD Action Center: (Click on Key Votes and then SCHIP Reauthorization 9/25/2007).  AUCD prepared a new Action Alert urging House Representatives to override the President's veto.  The Alert identifies key targets, moderate Republicans who voted against the SCHIP bill, who are being pressured to change their vote to override the veto:   


Medicaid Rehabilitation and School-Based Services

A 6-month moratorium was included in the SCHIP bill that would prevent the Department of Health and Human Services issuance of recently proposed rules on Medicaid rehabilitation services and certain school-based services.  While disability advocacy groups had hoped for a longer moratorium period, it would provide Congress with time to address these issues through the legislative process.  Last Wednesday, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) helped organize a well-attended Congressional briefing for staff sponsored by Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Salazar (D-CO).  Jeff Crowley from the Georgetown Health Policy Institute presented on behalf of CCD and was joined by representatives from the mental health community and foster care system.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has released two issue briefs that help explain the impact of the proposed rules on rehabilitation services ( and school-based services (  In addition to advocacy efforts for the moratorium in the SCHIP bill, AUCD also signed on to CCD comments on the Rehabilitation Rule that will be submitted to HHS.


ADA Restoration Act

The Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act experienced some significant movement in the House last week.  The bill (H.R.3195) now has 222 House cosponsors, a simple majority, which will facilitate faster movement through the bill's four committees of jurisdiction: Education and Labor, Judiciary, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Energy and Commerce.  Advocates across the country, including the AUCD network, worked hard to achieve this high number of cosponsors by calling their representatives in their Washington offices and in their home districts to educate and advocate on the importance of this legislation.  It is never too late, however, to bring on more cosponsors.  Visit the Action Center to learn if your representative has signed on:


The House Judiciary Committee's Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee held its first hearing on the bill last Thursday morning, which was well-attended by disability advocates.  The witnesses were: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the bill's primary sponsor, Cheryl Sensenbrenner, Chair, American Association of People with Disabilities, Stephen Orr, Pharmacist, Michael Collins, Executive Director, National Council on Disability, Lawrence Lorber, U. S. Chamber of Commerce, and Chai Feldblum, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center.  Congressmen Hoyer and Sensenbrenner (R-WI) also sent a letter ( to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, responding to the Chamber's letter of opposition to ADA Restoration (, rebutting a number of the mischaracterizations and errors in the Chamber's letter to the U.S. House of Representatives.     The Senate companion bill (S.1881) will be the next focus of advocacy efforts.  The bill still has only three cosponsors and an uncertain future for receiving any immediate attention.


National Children's Study

Last week NIH announced the addition of 22 new study centers that were awarded contracts to manage participant recruitment and data collection in 26 additional communities across the United States.  The National Children's Study is the largest study to be conducted on the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health in the United States. The study will follow a representative sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, seeking information to prevent and treat some of the nation's most pressing health problems, including autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  AUCD staff attended a Congressional briefing where the new centers were announced by Duane Alexander, Director of NICHD, and Peter Scheidt, Director of the National Children's Study.  Also at the briefing, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Christopher Smith (R-NJ) announced the creation of a Congressional Children's Study Working group to promote the achievements of the study and advocate for continued funding.  Members of Congress are being urged to join the workgroup.  Funding for the new study centers and the study's initial phase is a result of a $69 million appropriation from Congress in FY 2007.  The full House and Senate Committee FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriation bills both contain $110.9 million for the study.  However, funding is dependent on the outcome of the appropriations process.  Additional information about the National Children's Study is available at:


UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

AUCD has signed onto a letter prepared by the CCD International Task Force, addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urging that the US become a signatory nation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Task Force is planning a Capitol Hill briefing to educate its members and the media about the UN Convention on December 3, the International Day of People with Disabilities.