AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 23, 2009

Congressional Schedule

The Congress is back in session this week after the President's Day recess.  The House is scheduled to take up an omnibus bill comprising the nine fiscal 2009 appropriations bills that stalled last year because of a standoff between Congress and the President over the overall spending amount (see below).  The Senate is expected to take up the bill later in the week or early next week.  Meanwhile, President Obama is expected to release his preliminary outline for the fiscal 2010 budget this Thursday.  The President's budget is not expected to include details, rather just a broad outline.  A more detailed version will be presented later this Spring, possibly by mid-April.  

FY 09 Appropriations

Today Congressman Dave Obey (D-WI), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced a $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill to wrap up work on the fiscal year 2009 appropriations bills.  The omnibus bill includes funding for programs of the Department of Health and Human Services and Education.  AUCD is pleased to report that the UCEDDs are slated to receive a $1 million increase over FY 08 to $37.9 million. State DDC Councils would get a $1.8 million increase to $74.3 million; P&As a $1 million increase to $40 million; Projects of National Significance are stay level funded at $14 million; and voting access is level funded at $17.4 million.  The LEND programs are increased by $2 million in the bill. For NIH, the conference agreement provides $30.3billion, an increase of $937 million (3.2 percent) over the FY 08.  The CDC Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities receives a $10.6 million increase over FY 08 to $138 million. Also, for the first time ever, the Lifespan Respite Care Act would receive a small $2.5 million funding level.  More details will be published in next week's edition of In Brief.

Economic Recovery Funding

This appropriations action follows the final approval and release of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, HR 1) signed into law just last week. AUCD has posted resources related to the ARRA funding on its public policy/appropriations page and will continue to update this section as information becomes available.  The resources include  launched by the Obama Administration on February 17th to help the public track the use of funds from the economic recovery law. The website promises visual information and offers resources related to state and congressional district spending. The site currently includes a 50 page memo to Federal agencies with guidance on how the federal funds shall be allocated and accounted for.

President's Budget and DD Act Funding

AUCD staff participated in a meeting with staff of the Office on Management and Budget (OMB), along with other members of the Coalition on Health Funding. According to OMB staff, President Obama will release his first budget proposal for FY 2010 this Thursday, February 26. However, the budget will only be a broad outline with a more detailed version will be released later in the year.  The budget is expected to contain an outline of the President's health care reform proposal. AUCD, NDRN and the NACDD sent a joint letter to OMB Director Peter Orzag urging the President to include a $20 million increase for the DD Act programs that include the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Protection and Advocacy Systems, and the DD Councils.  In addition, the letter urges the administration to include support separate funding for the Family Support program authorized under Title II of the DD Act.

Long-Term Services and Supports

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) are working together to urge the inclusion of long-term services and supports in comprehensive health care reform.  AUCD is playing a leadership role in these efforts.  Grassroots coalitions are being organized in three key states: Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota.  UCEDDs in these states are assisting with these efforts.  A hearing on long-term services and supports is scheduled for March 4 in the Senate Special Aging Committee.  Prior to this hearing will be a national call-in day to urge Senators to include long-term services in health care reform.  Grassroots op ed pieces on long-term services are also being encouraged.

Postsecondary Education

Stephanie Smith Lee was selected by the Department of Education to serve on a negotiated rulemaking committee for the Higher Education Opportunity Act that will begin work on regulations concerning access to financial aid for students with disabilities.  AUCD and a number of other disability organizations submitted letters of recommendation for Stephanie due to her expertise in the area.  The committee will begin meeting March 2nd.    

Cabinet Nominations

Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas is emerging as President Obama's top choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Should she be nominated, Ms. Sebelius would bring eight years of experience as her state's insurance commissioner as well as six years as a governor running a state Medicaid program.  A final decision still remains unclear and other names are still reported to be in discussion.  The Senate will most likely vote on the confirmation of Labor Secretary designate Hilda Solis on February 24th.

Disability Policy Seminar

A list of registrants for the 2009 Disability Policy Seminar is now on AUCD's Events page so that participants may contact each other to coordinate state delegation visits.  Make your own appointments for Wednesday, April 29 as soon as possible with your Congressional delegation.  The events page provides all the details to register for the seminar and to prepare for your visits. The seminar will be held on April 27-29, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  This seminar is sponsored by AUCD in partnership with The Arc, UCP, AAIDD, NACDD and SABE.  Please register online before April 3 to avoid any penalties.  The Hotel will also fill up fast.  All of the information you need is on our Events page.

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