AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 2, 2009

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Congressional Schedule

The Senate will spend most of the week working on the economic stimulus package with the hopes of completing it by the end of the week.  The Senate will also vote on the confirmation of Eric H. Holder Jr. to be Attorney General. Most civil rights and disability groups are supporting Holder as AG.  The House has a short work week due to a Democratic policy retreat but plans to take up the Senate-passed Children's Health Insurance bill and could begin consideration of the FY 09 omnibus appropriations bill.

Budget and Appropriations

House appropriators had originally planned to begin work on the FY 09 omnibus appropriations bill that includes the Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill.  However, it appears more likely that the House will wait until the Senate completes action on the stimulus bill.  According to Hill sources, the House and Senate conferees have worked out the differences between the two spending bills, mainly by splitting the difference between the bill funding levels.  For University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, the Senate bill contains a $2 million increase, while the House bill provides no increase.  Therefore, we expect to see a $1 million increase for UCEDDs in a final bill.  Both bills provide an additional $2 million increase for the LEND programs over the FY 08 level.  NICHD also receives an increase in both bills: $44.3 million in the House and $36.1 million in the Senate.

Economic Recovery/Stimulus

The House of Representatives passed an $819 billion economic stimulus bill (H.R. 1) last Wednesday.  The Senate hopes to complete work on its $887 billion economic stimulus package by the end of this week.  This will depend on whether the Senate can achieve the 60 votes needed for passage.  Given that the Democrats now hold a 58 seat majority, it still needs support of at least two Republicans.  Republicans and Democrats have a number of amendments to offer.  There is a concern that Republicans may offer amendments that could jeopardize some of the money for state Medicaid relief.  Another hurdle that will have to be overcome is the huge differences between the House and Senate bills (see table below) that will have to be worked out in a conference committee next week if the Senate indeed finishes its work this week.

Both bills contain significant funding increases for programs that benefit people with disabilities and families.  AUCD has signed on to several coalition letters to House and Senate leaders in support of these provisions.  In addition, AUCD has been advocating for specific report language to ensure that these funds are spent in the way they are intended.

Please see the table below comparing some of the most significant provisions that would impact people with disabilities.  In addition, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has prepared a report that provides information about the impact of some of these provisions on individual states:  This information may be used to urge your governors and legislatures to hold off on making further cuts to health and human services programs.

House and Senate Economic Recovery bills Compared







IDEA Part B state grants

$13 billion

$13 billion

Part C Early Intervention

$600 million

$500 million

Preschool grants


15% of the Part B funds

Title I of ESEA

$13 billion

$13 billion

Pell Grants

$15.6 billion

$13.9 billion

College work study

$490 million


Teacher Quality

$300 million

$100 million grants

Higher education modernization

$6 billion


Modernization and repair

$14 billion

$16 billion

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

$79 billion

$79 billion

Head Start

$2.1 billion

$2.1 billion

Child Care Development BG

$2 billion

$2 billion

Health Care



Medicaid FMAP increase

$87 billion

$87 billion

Moratorium of Medicaid Regs

Extends thru Oct. 1

No Moratorium

Health Information Technology (HIT)

$2 billion

$5 billion

Health for unemployed through COBRA and optional Medicaid

$39 billion


Training primary care providers

$600 million






$1.5 billion

$3 billion

NIH university facilities

$1.5 billion


AHRQ Comparative Effectiveness Research

$1.1 billion

$1.1 billion




CDC Facilities modernization/renovations

$462 million

$412 million

CDC Prevention and wellness

$3 billion

$5.8 billion




VR State Grants

$500 million

$500 million

WIA Training and employment services grants

$4 billion

$3.7 billion

Social Security



SSA Computer update

$400 million

$750 million

SSA backlog and claims

$500 million


SS and Vet payment (one time)

$4.2 billion

$17 billion

SSA information technology


$140 million

SSA Administration


$3 million

Human Services



Centers for Independent Living

$200 million

$110 million

AmeriCorps Programs

$200 million

$200 million

Social Services Block Grant


$400 million

Community Services Block Grant

$ 1billion

$200 million

TANF welfare block grant

$2.5 billion



$160 million

$160 million




Public housing

$5 billion

$5 billion

HOME program

$1.5 billion

$2.25 billion


The Senate on Thursday passed a bill (H.R. 2) on a vote of 66-32 to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) this week.  The legislation expands the program by $32 billion over the next four and a half years, funded through a 61 cent per pack cigarette tax.  This will provide coverage to approximately 4 million previously uninsured children.  The bill is similar to the bill that passed during the last Congress that was vetoed twice by President Bush.  The next step is for the House to pass the Senate-passed bill in identical form thereby eliminating any need for a conference.  President Obama is expected to sign the measure quickly.

Health Care Reform

On Jan. 27 the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee sponsored a roundtable discussion concerning health care access for at-risk populations including individuals with disabilities.  Dr. Lisa I. Iezzoni from the Institute of Health Policy at the Massachusetts General Hospital provided testimony concerning access to preventative services for people with disabilities as well as testimony on the need for training of health professionals in the area of disability. Testimony is available at

Fair Pay Restoration Act

The "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act" (P.L. 111-2) was signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 29.  The law addresses the Supreme Court decision of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618(2007) by clearly stating that this decision, contrary to congressional intent, unduly restricted the time period in which victims of discrimination could challenge and recover discriminatory pay and practices.  The law amends the Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act to clarify that an individual who has been subject to wage or other compensation discrimination may recover up to two years of back pay. The law is retroactive and takes effect on May 28, 2007.

Meeting with Senate Leadership

The Board of Directors of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last week to discuss major issues of importance to people with disabilities and the 111th Congress.   AUCD staff participated in the meeting that focused on CCD's priority issues of health care reform and long term services and supports, economic recovery and annual federal funding, and employment.

Office on Disability at HHS

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Marge, Ed.D. as the new Deputy Director of the Office on Disability. Dr. Marge will serve as Acting Director for the new administration until the new HHS Secretary appoints a Director.

Disability Policy Seminar

Save the date the 2009 Disability Policy Seminar!  The theme of this year's event is "A New Era: Embracing Opportunities in the Face of Grave Challenges." The seminar will be held on April 27-29, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. hotel and registration materials will be available soon.  This seminar is sponsored by AUCD in partnership with The Arc, UCP, AAIDD, NACDD and our newest partner, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE).

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