AUCD Legislative News In Brief

April 29, 2010

Congressional Schedule
The Senate holds a procedural vote on a bill to overhaul financial regulations today. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold two hearings on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act later in the week.

FY 2011 Budget
The Senate Budget Committee amended and approved its draft FY 2011 Budget Resolution Friday by a vote of 12 to 10. The Budget Resolution provides the framework for spending and tax policy decisions for the fiscal year and determines the total amount Congress can allocate through its 12 regular appropriations bills.  The plan includes significant cuts in spending and in the deficit; it sets the spending cap at $1.122 trillion, which is $4 billion below the president's budget request, and freezes non-security discretionary spending for three years. For discretionary health programs (Function 550), the resolution assumes $59.8 billion, a $1.5 billion increase over FY 2010 and consistent with the president's FY 2011 request. It also includes a deficit-reduction reserve fund that ensures any savings produced from the President's bipartisan fiscal commission cannot be spent and are used only to reduce deficits and debt.  Additional information about the resolution is available on the committee's website.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the House Labor-HHS-Ed Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday. Member questions focused mostly on how the committee should fund programs authorized under the recently enacted health reform legislation. In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair David Obey (D-Wisc.) listed medical and "patient-centered" research among his priorities.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave the keynote address at the Council for Exceptional Children's 2010 Convention and Expo in Nashville, TN last week. In his remarks, he discussed the future of education and the Obama Administration's education priorities, focusing on the importance of addressing lingering roadblocks that prevent children with disabilities from receiving a world-class education. He stated his plans to work closely with members of Congress on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to ensure that students with disabilities are included in all aspects of the law, and to align its principles with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For more information, watch or read the full address.

State budget crises resulting from the economic recession have negatively impacted disability-related programs, including state spending on education. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently released a report entitled Premature End of Federal Assistance to States Threatens Education Reforms and Jobs, which includes state-specific examples of cuts to various education programs including special education and early intervention services.

Community Living
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Disability Director Henry Claypool moderated a listening session
on The Community Living Initiative Monday. The session provided an opportunity for community stakeholders and consumers to weigh in on how public officials can improve community living options for individuals with disabilities and older adults.  Representatives from HHS agencies and offices, including the Office on Disability (OD), the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Administration on Aging (AoA), and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), attended the session.  Discussion with over 50 stakeholders included a number of issues, including access to health care and housing, incorporating assisted living as a home and community-based option, and developing a strong infrastructure for direct support professionals. Additional comments are still being taken and can be emailed to Kathleen P. Magill, PhD.  HHS established the Community Living Initiative in response to the 10th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C. and President Obama's launch of the "Year of Community Living" in 2009.  The last scheduled session will take place on May 27, in Boston, MA.

Caregivers and Veterans
Congress passed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (S 1963 & HR 3155) last week, which creates a separate program of general family caregiver support services for family and non-family caregivers of veterans of any era. Support services could include training and education, counseling and mental health services, respite care, and information on the support services available to caregivers through other public, private, and nonprofit agencies.  The bill now goes to the President for his signature and funds must be appropriated by Congress before the program can be implemented.

Representative Gwendolynne S. Moore (D-WI) introduced H.R. 5083, the Promoting Fair Work Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act, Tuesday.  The bill would give states incentives and flexibility to better serve people with disabilities in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  According to the Government Accountability Office, approximately 40% of the people who continue to receive TANF benefits either have a disability or a family member with a disability.   

Health Reform Information
The Kaiser Family Foundation has issued three "Explaining Health Reform" briefs that discuss three important elements of the law: the temporary high-risk pool, extension of dependent coverage, and Medicaid's role. More resources about the new law are available on the Foundation's Health Reform Gateway at