AUCD Legislative News InBrief

November 26, 2007

Congressional schedule

Congress is in the second week of a two week recess for the Thanksgiving holiday.  When Congress reconvenes on December 3, much of its time will be spent on appropriations and a backlog of must-do bills.  Only one of 12 annual appropriations bills (defense) has been signed into law.   Meanwhile, DD Act and other programs in the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education continue at current levels until Dec. 14 while the Congress completes their work on the FY 08 funding bill.  See also Nov. 19 In Brief:



When Congress returns next week, Democratic leaders plan to put together an omnibus package consisting of the 11 remaining spending bills totaling $484 billion.  The new funding level would be $10 billion less in overall spending on the remaining bill if they split the difference.  Under new proposed subcommittee allocations distributed Thursday, the individual spending bills would share the pain differently. The new Labor-HHS spending allocation would be almost $147.2 billion, about $3.5 billion less than the conference bill just vetoed -- but still much closer to its original allocation than Bush's budget request of $140.9 billion.  The new allocation is 2.4 percent below the original but about a 1.8 percent above current Labor-HHS spending -- not enough to keep up with inflation, demonstrating how steeply the President's proposed cuts would be.  AUCD will continue to monitor the negotiations and its impact on programs important to people with disabilities.


AUCD signed onto a Coalition for Health Funding letter thanking those members for voting for the conference report.  AUCD network members are also encouraged to thank Representatives that voted for the bill.  Feel free to use the online action center to quickly and easily send a message:


Aging and Disability

AUCD staff and other leaders of the CCD Long Term Services and Supports Task Force recently met with leaders of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) to discuss collaborating more closely on policy areas of mutual interest.  Topics that came up as possibilities include long term care financing, workforce development, rebalancing the institutional bias in Medicaid, and informing presidential candidates about the need for a national long term care policy.  AUCD staff was subsequently invited, on Nov. 19, to present to the Council on the Community Choices Act. 



Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 1488).  The bill would amend IDEA to allow for a court to award fees to expert witnesses and to pay for evaluations related to IDEA due process actions.  This bill is intended to overturn a Supreme Court decision that ruled that expert witnesses who are not attorneys cannot be reimbursed under IDEA. 



AUCD signed onto a CCD letter to Finance Committee Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley regarding our priorities for the upcoming Medicare bill which will be marked up on December 5th.  The letter urges the Committee to include a 2 year moratorium on the proposed CMS Medicaid rehabilitative services option and school based services rule in the Medicare bill.  Since negotiations on the SCHIP bill may be stalled for the rest of this year, the Medicare bill will probably be our only vehicle to secure this moratorium. 


2008 Disability Policy Seminar

AUCD emailed an invitation to the network last week encouraging participation in this year's Disability Policy Seminar. The theme of this year is "Disability Policy in and Election Year." We hope you will join us to learn about the special challenges and opportunities to move our legislative agenda forward in this election year.  The event will be March 2-4, 2008 in Washington, DC.  Topics may include budget and appropriations, health care, DD Act reauthorization, employment, transportation, Housing, Social Security, the ADA, and community organizing and voting issues.


AUCD Legislative Affairs

The Legislative Affairs Committee met during the AUCD annual meeting.  Topics that were discussed are in a written report now on the public policy section of the AUCD website.  The Committee also sponsored a legislative affairs briefing given by AUCD staff.  The overheads from the briefing are also posted online for those of you who were not able to attend or who might want to share the Powerpoint with trainees.