AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 30, 2009

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Congressional Schedule

The Senate will begin debating its version of the congressional budget resolution (BR) today and most of this week.  The House is expected to take up and pass national services legislation today, then turn its attention to its version of a BR by midweek. Both sides of the Capitol hope to finish their work on the BR before the beginning of the two-week Spring break that begins on April 3. President Obama and Vice President Biden both made visits to Capitol Hill last week in order to garner support for the President's budget.  Two Senate Committees will hold hearings this week on the nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

FY 2010 Budget

The House and Senate Budget Committees passed their fiscal 2010 budget resolutions (BR).  Both were passed on party line votes.  Both bills are lower than the President's budget: the House cuts it by $7 billion; the Senate by $15 billion.  There are also differences in the level of non-discretionary defense spending. The House bill would provide for $532.6 billion. The Senate bill calls for $525 billion. Both resolutions include deficit-neutral reserve funds for healthcare reform, energy and education, three major agenda items of the President. Causing the most controversy is that the House version contains reconciliation instructions to committees to help implement health care and education reforms.  The Senate contains no reconciliation instructions but Senate leaders have not ruled it out.  Budget reconciliation requires only a simple majority (or 51 votes) for passage while regular budget rules require at least 60 votes for passage.  Republicans strongly oppose its use.    

FY 2010 Appropriations

Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) is once again championing our "dear colleague" letter to members of Congress urging them to sign on to a letter to Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Tiahrt of the Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.  The letter urges the committee leaders to support a $20 million increase for the DD programs, including the UCEDDs, DD Councils, P&A, and HAVA. An action alert was emailed to the network and posted on our action center.  Please edit the letter to talk about your Center activities and let AUCD know if you get a response.

AUCD is also supporting two other dear colleague letters. Rep. Langevin also authored a letter requesting the fully authorized amount of $71.1 million in funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Act programs in FY 2010.  In the recently enacted FY 09 appropriations bill, the law was given a first-time appropriation of $2.5 million.  Rep. Yarmuth (D-KY) authored a dear colleague letter recommending funding for programs within the Higher Education Opportunity Act that will expand supports and opportunities for college students with disabilities (see more below).

National Service

The House is set to pass legislation on Monday to expand national and community service programs (HR 1388) authorized under the 1990 National and Community Service Act (PL 101-610) clearing the way for the President's signature.  The bill before the House combines the House and Senate (S. 277) national service bills.  Both bills include language to increase opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in national service (see also March 23 In Brief).  During Senate consideration and at the urging of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the bill's name was changed in honor of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), a long time champion of national service. The Senate added an amendment sponsored by Senator Baucus that establishes a program to support capacity-building at the state level for small and medium size nonprofits. The Senate also rejected efforts on the Senate floor to insert restrictions on nonprofit lobbying. AUCD provided input into both bills and sent letters of support to congressional sponsors. See the AUCD website for more information including the bill text summaries of  both versions on the bill as well as a fact sheet on the National Service Inclusion Project and its partnership with AUCD. A summary of the bill is also on the House committee website:

Higher Education Opportunity Act

Representative Yarmuth (D-KY) is circulating a dear colleague letter on appropriations for disability programs within the Higher Education Opportunity Act.  This law includes sweeping new provisions intended to expand access to higher education to students with disabilities, including students with intellectual disabilities.  In addition, the law contains provisions to improve the preparation of K-12 general education teachers and college faculty who prepare new teachers in special education and other shortage areas.  However, these exciting new provisions require funding to be implemented.   Please contact House members and encourage them to sign on this letter.  You can find the phone number of your representative through the AUCD Action Center.  The deadline for sign on is this Wednesday, April 1.   

Long-Term Services and Supports

Last week the Community Choice Act (CCA) (S. 697/H.R. 1670) and the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act (S. 697/H.R. 1721) were both reintroduced in the Senate and House.  On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Health Subcommittee held a hearing on long-term care and health care reform.  In conjunction with the hearing a letter signed by nearly 100 national aging and disability organizations was released.  The letter, addressed to President Obama and Congressional leadership working on health care reform, urges the inclusion of long-term services and supports in health care reform.        

Health Care Reform

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold three healthcare hearings this week, including a hearing Tuesday on public health. The Senate Finance has outlined an ambitious and determined timeline to have a bill in Committee in June.  Over the next month a series of three public round tables will be held along with a series of member and staff only meetings to work towards a bill.      

Council on Community Advocacy

AUCD's Council on Community Advocacy (COCA), chaired by Gordon Richens and Kendall Corbett, sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Michael J. Astrue, requesting assistance in ensuring oversight and audit of the one-time economic recovery payment to SS and SSI beneficiaries who have representative payees that are facilities-based under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The letter is available on the AUCD website under Public Policy and COCA.


The Department of Education, Office of Special Education staff briefed education and disability advocates on Friday on its progress implementing the Recovery Act (stimulus funding).  Staff reported that one half of the total amount of ARRA funding will be released tomorrow and the remainder will be released to school districts in August or September.  Reports from agencies are required quarterly and will be posted on the recovery website. Much of what was presented is outlined in a March 24 Powerpoint on the ED Recovery site.

ARRA/NIH Autism Research

On March 24th information was released from NIH announcing $60 million in ARRA funds to support strategic autism research over a 2 year period.  The main focus of grant opportunities will be on the development and testing of diagnostic screening, assessing risk from prenatal/early life exposures, clinical trials for intervention strategies, and adapting effective pediatric practices for older children with autism and adults.

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