AUCD Legislative News InBrief

February 11, 2008

Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are in session this week but will be on recess the week of February 18. This is a good time to meet with your Members of Congress to discuss issues important to you and the network. For more information on current legislative issues, visit the AUCD Action Center.

Economic Stimulus

Last week Congress overwhelmingly approved a $156 billion economic stimulus plan. The final package widened eligibility for low-income seniors and disabled veterans ($300 payments to seniors, disabled veterans and veterans' widows who could show $3,000 in Social Security or veterans' disability benefits last year). Final rebate for individuals is $600, couples $1,200, and $300 for each child younger than 17.


On February 7, Representatives Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on House Energy and Commerce and Pallone (D-NJ), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, joined by Republicans King (R-NY) and Reynolds (R-NY) introduced legislation to provide a temporary increase in the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) to assist states facing potential declines in tax revenue as a result of the economic slump. The 2.95 percent increase would begin on April 1 and continue through June 30.

Higher Education Act

On February 7, by a vote of 354-58, the House overwhelmingly passed the College Opportunity and Affordability Act (H.R. 4137), a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) aimed at addressing barriers to college enrollment. This legislation includes numerous provisions to promote the inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in higher education. AUCD sent a letter to Chairman Miller (D-CA) and Ranking Member McKeon (R-CA) supporting the bill. The next step is for a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate bills. The current HEA authorization expires March 31. For more information visit AUCD public policy, education web site.


AUCD signed on to a coalition letter asking the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Chairman Kennedy (D-MA) and Ranking Member Enzi (R-WY) to work with committee chairs and co-sponsors to reject any proposed policy in which the Individualized Education Program (IEP) would be used as the primary accountability tool under NCLB for special education students. The letter and additional resources can be viewed by visiting the AUCD public policy page, education web site.

Lifespan Respite Care Act

AUCD Staff met with Representative Langevin (D-RI), Chair of the House Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, to discuss strategies for funding the Lifespan Respite Care Act in FY09. The law was authorized at $40 million in FY08 but received no funds in the final L-HHS-ED appropriations bill. A Dear Colleague letter is currently being drafted and your assistance to encourage members to sign on will be needed. Stay tuned for more information.

Disability Policy Seminar
The deadline for early registration for the Disability Policy Seminar has passed but you can still register for this event, co-sponsored by AUCD, The Arc, UCP, AAIDD and NACDD. The seminar takes place March 2-4 in Washington, DC. Hill staff and policy experts will discuss a wide range of legislative proposals and outlook for the Second Session of the 110th Congress. A special Trainee reception is being scheduled for Sunday evening. The block of rooms at the conference hotel is full. A list alternative hotels is on the AUCD website:

LEND/Network Resources

AUCD staff held a webinar for LEND Directors on the Combating Autism Act and its funding implications for the LEND network. Contact Kim Musheno or Crystal Pariseau for the archived powerpoint and audio.

Did You Know?

The AUCD Public Policy web page provides valuable information on how your member voted on major legislation. Sign up now and receive a weekly email tracking your member and on upcoming votes.

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website: