AUCD Legislative News InBrief

November 24, 2008

Budget and Economy

President Bush signed an extension of unemployment compensation Friday, as Democratic leaders in Congress said they will start work immediately on a broader economic stimulus package to move in January. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats will be spend the coming weeks preparing an economic recovery package that the 111th Congress can consider soon after it convenes Jan. 6.  They hope to have it ready to enact soon after Barack Obama is sworn in as president Jan. 20.  President-elect Barack Obama announced over the weekend that his administration is developing a plan to create or preserve 2.5 million jobs over the next two years by spending billions of dollars to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize public schools, and construct wind farms and other alternative sources of energy.


Election and Transition

Last week, Democrats picked up another senate seat when Mark Begich (D-AK) defeated Ted Stevens (R-AK), the longest serving Republican senator.  The Minnesota senate race has entered a recount and the Georgia senate race will be decided by a December 2 run off.  Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was selected to head the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration.  Also last week, Henry Waxman (D-CA) ousted John Dingell (D-MI) for Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a Democratic Caucus vote of 137-122. 


Health Care Reform

Last week Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus (D-MT) held a hearing on the economics of health care reform.  Baucus has started meeting with budget leaders to discuss how to revamp the healthcare system while tackling the issue of "pay as you go" rules.  Chairman Baucus also met with HELP Committee Chairman Kennedy last week, who has expressed positive comments towards Baucus' white paper, Call to Action: Health Reform 2009.  CCD Health and Long-Term Services Task Force Co-Chairs met with Finance committee staff last week to follow up on a CCD letter concerning priorities for health care reform.  CCD along with the Leadership Council of Aging Organization (LCAO) released a joint press release last week indicating principles for long-term services and support financing reform and urging long-term care to be included in health care reform discussions.


Workforce Investment Act

Senators Kennedy, Murray, Enzi, and Isakson sponsored a meeting to discuss the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act and to specifically look at what has worked, what should be refined and retained, what key challenges need to be addressed, and what are innovative policy ideas to consider for the next iteration. Senator Murray, Chair of the Employment and Workplace Safety Committee, requested the comments to be organized around five broad themes: (1) Market driven system that recognizes the needs of workers and employers; (2) Streamlined decision-making system that recognizes the necessary and complementary roles of the state, local areas, and state legislatures; (3) System that offers easily accessible, quality services for low-skilled and low-earning workers; (4) System that  maximizes use of innovative workforce and economic development strategies; and (5) Highly accountable system that is transparent and easily explainable. AUCD submitted joint comments with the CCD Employment and Training task force.


Legislative Goals 111th Congress

AUCD met with leaders of the Arc, UCP, AAIDD, and ANCOR last week to draft joint legislative goals for the 111th Congress.  AUCD staff were joined by Fred Orelove and Samantha Marsh from the Virginia UCEDD.