AUCD Legislative News InBrief

September 29, 2008

Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate is back in session this week mainly to finalize the $700 billion bill intended to stabilize the economy.  House and Senate leaders worked all weekend to come to agreement on the bill.  However, in spite of this work, this bill failed to pass the House of Representatives this afternoon. Congress is also still trying to finalize a bill that would extend expiring tax cuts and fix the alternative minimum tax (AMT) issue.  Caught up in that package is the mental health parity bill (HR 6983) (see also Sept. 22 In Brief). It is still unclear at this point how the Congress will deal with these issues before adjourning.  Congress is expected to adjourn this week; however, now that the Bailout bill failed, leaders may decide to reconvene for a Lame Duck session following the elections.


FY 2009 Appropriations

Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) on Saturday which will continue funding the federal government through March 6, 2009. This was necessary because Congress is expected to adjourn this week without enacting any of the 12 annual appropriations bills. With some exceptions, the majority of federal programs, including AUCD network programs, will continue at Federal Fiscal Year 2008 levels. There was no additional money provided for SSA's Administrative expenses, which was a big disappointment for disability advocates.  Congress will attempt to finish the FY 09 Appropriations bills early in the next Administration at which time AUCD will advocate for the highest possible level of funding for University Centers and other programs that support people with disabilities.  See July 7 In Brief for a comparison of House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bills.


ADA Amendments Act

In a major victory for the disability community, the ADA Amendments Act (ADA-AA) was signed into law on September 25 in a signing ceremony in the Oval Office before a small group including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), as well as President George H.W. Bush, who signed the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. AUCD staff joined with other disability advocates and congressional staff for a small celebration immediately afterward. For more information on the ADAA-AA visit the AUCD public policy page.



The Senate failed to get enough votes on Friday to pass to an economic stimulus package that included a temporary increase in the federal funding for state Medicaid programs designed to avoid deep program cuts. The Senate bill was supported by six moderate Republicans but still did not get enough votes to overcome an expected Presidential veto. The House passed their version on Sept. 26 (H.R. 7110) by a vote of 264 - 158. The full vote can be found here: . The House proposal would have provided $14.4 billion in fiscal relief for states; the Senate package includes $19.6 billion.  (State-by-state estimates of the increased funds that states would have received are available at The package also added funding for child nutrition, job development, unemployment and housing assistance. It is unclear if the Senate will make another attempt to pass this or a similar bill.


Medicaid Outpatient Rule
The moratorium on the proposed regulation relating to redefining outpatient hospital and clinical services was NOT attached to the economic stimulus package nor was it attached to any other moving vehicle.  Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) introduced a separate bill (H.R. 7219, the Protecting Hospital Outpatient and Community Clinic Services Act of 2008) to provide a moratorium on the regulation.  New York Reps. Michael Arcuri (D), Randy Kuhl (R), and James Walsh (R) are cosponsors. New York conducted an impact analysis on the Rule and discovered that it could potentially lose up to $500 million in Medicaid funding to hospitals and clinics.  The NY University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities could lose $2.4 million.  AUCD is working with a larger national Medicaid coalition trying to enact a moratorium before the end of this Congress. Thanks to those of you who responded to the AUCD alerts by contacting Members of Congress on this issue.


Pre- and Postnatal Awareness

The Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act (S. 1810), originally introduced by Sens. Brownback (R-KS) and Kennedy (D-MA), was approved by the House by a voice vote under suspension of the rules on Thursday, Sept. 25.  The President is expected to sign the bill.  This bill, strongly supported by AUCD, will amend the Public Health Service Act to increase patient referrals to providers of key support services for women who have received a positive diagnosis for Down syndrome, or other condition, as well as provide up-to-date information on the range of outcomes for such individuals; strengthen existing networks of support through the CDC, HRSA, and other programs; and ensure that patients receive up-to-date, evidence-based information about the accuracy of the test. The Senate amended the bill before passing it earlier this week, stripping out language authorizing $5 million per year for the activities. No specific spending is authorized in the final bill.


Social Security

AUCD signed onto a letter of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Task Force on Social Security to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) in support of her introduction of the Timely Due Process for the Disabled Act of 2008, H.R. 6485.  The bill establishes timelines for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to meet at the Administrative Law Judge level.  The timelines are similar to those recommended by the task force to the House Ways and Means Committee in response to a question following a hearing on April 23, 2008.  The letter also states that CCD believes the agency must be given sufficient resources, including adequate and properly trained staff, technology improvements, and the time to eliminate the current backlog in decisions on disability claims before it can be expected to meet the deadline in the bill.  Over the last decade, the Social Security Administration's administrative budget has been persistently under-funded which has led to the growing disability claims backlog.



Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2008 (S.3593).  This bill will reform the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program.  An identical bill (H.R. 5772) passed the House last week.



The Senate adopted a House-passed bill (H.R. 6893) to increase adoption subsidies for families who adopt children with special needs.  The President is expected to sign the bill into law.


AUCD Disability Policy Fellowship

Today is the application deadline for the Disability Policy Fellowship that starts early in 2009; however, applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. The purpose of this year-long fellowship is to offer a significant experience in national level activities related to policy and legislative development, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and association administration.  Staff working for at least 2-5 years at a network program, or graduate trainees who are completing their training program are eligible for the position.  More information is on the AUCD website at the following link:


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