AUCD Legislative News InBrief

December 22, 2008

Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate have adjourned and will reconvene on January 3, 2009.

Economic Stimulus

President-elect Barack Obama has been in discussion with congressional Democrats regarding his federal economic recovery proposal intended to help the ailing economy and create or preserve at least 3 million jobs over the next two years. Obama's draft proposal would dedicate $675 billion to $775 billion over the next two years to middle-class tax cuts, aid to state governments (including up to $100 billion for Medicaid) and investments in domestic priorities such as infrastructure, health-care technology and education.  With the addition of congressional initiatives, the total cost could be has high as $850 billion.  AUCD helped draft a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to the Congress and the Obama Administration outlining a set of priorities that should be included in any economic recovery package, including specific proposals for Medicaid, employment, education, housing, Social Security and research.

Transition Activities

AUCD Board President Michael Gamel-McCormick and Executive Director George Jesien, represented the association at a meeting last week with representatives of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, along with several other national disability organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the transition and broad policy issues. During the meeting AUCD provided recommendations on health care reform, health promotion and postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities. Other issues discussed included Medicaid home and community-based supports, early intervention, and the importance of disability research as an economic stimulus.  A summary of the issues brought forward by AUCD is posted online at Recommendations and other documents presented to the transition team (from all groups) are also posted on the transition team website at, under "Your Seat at the Table."

New Appointments

Last week, President-elect Obama announced that he intends to nominate Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) as Secretary of Labor and former Rep. Ray LaHood (D-IL) as Secretary of Transportation.  The major cabinet selections are now complete. However, the Senate must still confirm the appointments when Congress convenes in January.  A complete list of the cabinet appointments and their bios can be found on the website.

Obama also named physicist John Holdren, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard University, as White House science adviser, sending a strong signal of his intention to aggressively tackle the issue of climate change in his administration.  Holdren also will be in charge of the president's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Obama named Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be a co-chair of the office along with Eric Lander, a specialist in human genome research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

No Child Left Behind/Growth Models

AUCD staff participated in a two day meeting to examine growth models as a means for measuring student progress.  The meeting was convened by the National Center for Learning Disabilities to bring together experts in growth models to discuss and develop joint policy recommendations on including growth models as part of the accountability system for all students in preparation of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. In November of 2005, ED Secretary Spellings announced a pilot program to determine whether measuring individual student growth over time would be another appropriate way to determine adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the Title I program. Since then, nine states have participated in the pilot program. However, the models are still being evaluated for their effectiveness. The Task Force plans to meet again in January to finalize a set of recommendations that will be presented to Hill staff and the Department of Education.  For more information about the growth model pilot program, see ED's website at:

Meeting with Majority Leader

AUCD staff met with staff of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as well as staff of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to discuss AUCD's legislative priorities and all federal legislative issues that impact people with disabilities.  Among the issues discussed was the economic stimulus package in development, Medicaid regulations, and long term services and supports as well as the need consider the impact on people with disabilities when considering any major legislation.

Editor's Note
AUCD's legislative affairs staff wishes you all happy and safe holidays.  The next issue of Legislative News In Brief will be published the week of Jan. 5.  Happy New Year!

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