AUCD Legislative News InBrief

July 26, 2010

20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Happy Anniversary!  Today, July 26, marks two decades since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.  To commemorate this wide-ranging civil rights law, disability advocacy organizations, federal agencies and Congress are hosting numerous events throughout the week.  AUCD co-sponsored one of the celebrations, along with about 60 other national disability organizations, during which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) were all honored for their participation in drafting the ADA and for their ongoing advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities.  Today, AUCD staff is attending a special congressional briefing on the ADA sponsored by Sen. Harkin, a White House event, a reception at the Capitol with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a gala at the National Press Club.  The White House event, which begins at 5:30 Eastern time, will be streamed live at

Last week a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing entitled, "ADA at 20: Celebrating our Progress, Affirming our Commitment" was held.  Witnesses included Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), and US Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, among others.  Witnesses and committee members noted the remarkable progress made since the passage of the ADA, but many also pointed out how much work still needs to be done before ADA's inclusive vision becomes a reality.  One of the more notable announcements came when Leader Hoyer announced that Rep. Langevin would be the first person using a wheelchair to preside over the House of Representatives on Monday.  This historic event is made possible due to recent alterations to the Speaker's platform making it wheelchair accessible through a series of lifts.  See more details and read the full testimony on the Judiciary Committee website.

FY 2011 Appropriations
Although the House FY 2011 Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee bill has not yet been made public, AUCD has learned that the bill provides a $2 million increase for the University Centers for Excellence to $41 million.  The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs would also receive a $2 million increase if the subcommittee bill is enacted. The report language accompanying the appropriations bill also "urges NICHD to continue to support and to provide additional resources to the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRC) so that they can conduct basic and translational research to develop effective prevention, treatment, and intervention strategies for children and adults with developmental disabilities." The Developmental Disabilities Councils receive a $2.4 million increase; the Protection and Advocacy Systems receive a $1 million increase; and the Projects of National Significance is level-funded in the House bill.  The full Committee has not yet scheduled a mark-up.  The Senate is scheduled to mark up its L-HHS-ED appropriations bill on Tuesday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, Chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) unanimously passed the Training and Research for Autism Improvement Nationwide Act (H.R.5756) on July 22.  The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) only one week before on July 15.   This bill is similar to the interdisciplinary training initiatives authorized in the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (HR 2413/S. 819) introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).  This measure was also passed by the full House of Representatives last year as part of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 but did not make it into the final bill signed into law because the House and Senate bills were not able to go to conference.  The bill authorizes supplemental grants to UCEDDs and other comparable training entities to provide interdisciplinary training, continuing education, technical assistance, and information in order to improve services to children and adults with autism and their families, as well as to address the existing unmet needs related to individuals on the spectrum and other developmental disabilities.

AUCD and other national Autism and Disability organizations have been meeting with staff of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) to provide input into a draft bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act.  Sen. Dodd is hoping to introduce a bipartisan bill before September.

President Obama signed into law Thursday a restoration of unemployment benefits for people who have been out of work for six months or more.  The benefits, which expired at the end of May, will be extended through November 30. 

The Department of Education recently announced Sue Swenson as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and Melody Musgrove as the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).  Ms. Swenson previously served as the Executive Director of the Arc of the United States and the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, as well as the Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD).  Ms. Musgrove was the State Director of Special Education in Mississippi, a due process hearing officer, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Federal Programs for the Lawrence County School District, an Assistant Principal and special education teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

FY 2012 Budget
As part of the Coalition for Health Funding, AUCD staff met with Marc Garufi, chief of the Office of Management and Budget's public health branch, to discuss the FY 2012 budget.  Currently there is a lot of uncertainty about the 2012 budget due to a number of factors: expiration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds, a number of newly authorized programs, uncertainty about FY 2011 and the forthcoming recommendations of the president's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility.  Health and implementation of the Affordable Care Act will remain a high priority, however, and despite the president's budget freeze, health related programs likely will not see significant cuts.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Last week, the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD), and members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities International Task Force met with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss ratifying CRPD.  During the meeting, Sen. Kerry expressed support for CRPD and said that obtaining additional bipartisan support will assist in the ratification effort.  However, the committee will address several other pending treaties before turning its attention to CRPD.  AUCD signed onto a letter developed by USICD urging the committee to support the ratification of CRPD.  CRPD is a United Nations treaty that will create revolutionary changes for people with disabilities all around the world in human and civil rights. 

Health Reform
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Wednesday the award of $88 million in grants to support evidence-based home visiting programs focused on improving the wellbeing of families with young children.  Through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, nurses, social workers, or other professionals meet with at-risk families in their homes, evaluate the families' circumstances, and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child's health, development, and ability to learn.  The Affordable Care Act provides a total of $1.5 billion for home visiting initiatives over the next five years.  Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and five territories applied for and were awarded funding under this program. 

Medicare & Medicaid
Last week, AUCD signed on to two letters prepared by the Independence through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition.  The first letter urges the Senate HELP Committee to support S. 3223, the Prosthetics and Custom Orthotics Parity Act of 2010, which requires that a group health plan provide prosthetics and custom orthotics in the same manner as applicable to medical and surgical benefits.  The second letter requests that Congress establish a separate benefit category for complex rehabilitation technology within Medicare to ensure beneficiary access to critical assistive devices for beneficiaries with disabling conditions. 

NIH Director Francis Collins announced the selection of Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D. as Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), effective August 1st.  For the past eight months, Guttmacher served as Acting Director of NICHD.

Restraint & Seclusion
AUCD staff continue to try to gain support for S. 2860, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, introduced by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) in December. This important legislation would provide strong protections to all children against the harmful use of restraint and seclusion, including:

  • Complete ban of school personnel from imposing mechanical, chemical, or physical restraint that restricts air flow;
  • Prohibition of use of physical restraint or seclusion unless behavior poses imminent danger and less restrictive interventions would be ineffective;
  • Requirement for parental notification;
  • Mandate that only trained personnel may use restraint/seclusion except in rare circumstances;
  • Requirement for training in proper use of restraint/seclusion, as well as training and technical assistance on school-wide positive behavior supports ; and
  • Requirements for reporting and data collection.


To contact your Senator about this bill, please visit AUCD's Action Center.