AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 11, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 11, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 7
Subscribe to AUCD InBrief  |  AUCD InBrief Archive

FY 2011 Appropriations
On Wednesday, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) released revised allocations to the appropriations subcommittees that include $58 billion in non-security discretionary spending cuts, according to his press release.  The allocation for the Depts. of Labor-HHS-Education is $157.02 billion, a four percent cut from FY2010 levels or $6.565 billion below the current continuing resolution (CR).  The House will vote next week to finalize funding levels for fiscal year 2011 (the remaining 7 months of the current funding year).  The press release contains a partial list of 70 programs that would be eliminated or severely cut.  There may be additional cuts introduced during the floor debate.  What happens next week will set the stage for future budget debates. If proposed cuts to FY 2011 are enacted, funding for health, human services, education and employment programs that assist people with disabilities will be jeopardized and it will take years to recover.  Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents that cuts in health and human services funding do more harm than good.  Watch for a series of alerts from AUCD on budget and appropriations.

FY 2012 Budget
The President will release his FY 2012 Budget Request on Monday, February 14, the same week that the House will be voting on spending cuts for the current fiscal year (see above).  AUCD has not received any details regarding the President's budget; however, we expect that it will be austere.  During the State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a five-year freeze on discretionary spending.  An analysis of his Budget Request will be included in the January 21st issue of In Brief.

Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) have introduced S. 245, the Commitment to American Prosperity (CAP) Act, which would cap all federal spending at a set level.  This cap would include all entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and others) and all discretionary spending (education, housing, employment, etc.).  The cap would be tied to a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  GDP is the total market value of all goods and services produced by our economy.  If the spending cap is exceeded, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would be authorized to make automatic spending cuts across all federal programs.  A two-thirds vote in Congress would be needed to overturn any cuts made by OMB.  The amount of the cuts would be in proportion to how fast each program is growing.  Unlike previous laws to control spending, this bill includes no protections for low-income entitlement programs such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.  As a result, the impact of exceeding the cap would mean that the biggest cuts would come from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  These programs make up a significant portion of federal spending and are growing faster than many other programs due to the aging of the population and rising per-person health care costs. 

Combating Autism Act
AUCD and other advocates have been meeting with key members of the House and Senate to urge the introduction of a bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act (PL 109-416).  Due to "sunset" language, this law will expire if it is not reauthorized by September 2011.  Now-retired Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act (S. 4044) just before the end of the last Congress.  Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has agreed to sponsor a bill to reauthorize the law in the new Congress based on the Dodd bill.  The new bill also includes a training provision to provide supplemental funding for University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) or other interdisciplinary training entities to address the training and technical assistance needs of youth and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  However, a Republican co-sponsor, preferably one who is a member of the Senate HELP Committee, is needed.  On the House side, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) are willing to introduce a companion bill.  Watch for an action alert on this issue by email.

Health Care Reform
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the allocation of $750 million of the Prevention and Public Health Fund to be made available.  The Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act, aims to expand and sustain capacity for disease prevention as well as early disease detection and management in an effort to promote healthy living.  In FY 2010, $500 million of the Prevention Fund was disbursed to states.  The priorities for the $750 million dedicated this year include community and clinical prevention, public health infrastructure as well as research and tracking.

HHS rolled out a new website,, that aims to get people enrolled in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans, high-risk insurance pools that offer coverage to people with pre-existing conditions before state exchanges start operating in 2014.  Enrollment numbers are still low, with only 12,000 signed on--far lower than the estimated 375,000 enrollees.

U.S. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently sent a letter to governors outlining the flexibility and support available to states that are examining how to make Medicaid programs more efficient while meeting pressing health care challenges in the face of difficult budget circumstances due to the recession.  The letter was, in part, a response to a call by some Governors for a waiver of the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) provisions in the Affordable Care Act that requires states to maintain their eligibility standards for Medicaid beneficiaries until 2014, when new, nationwide Medicaid eligibility standards take effect and state-based health insurance exchanges will begin operating. 
Repealing the MOE provisions would almost certainly result in a sharp increase in the number of Americans who are uninsured, as states scale back eligibility for low-income children, parents, seniors, and/or people with serious disabilities, according to a new report issued by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) Thursday, focusing on the challenges and opportunities in our nation's education system.  An archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the committee's website.  The committee is expected to hold a number of hearings on ESEA in the coming months to educate its many new members and develop reauthorization legislation. 

Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced Thursday new legislation aimed at promoting meaningful postsecondary educational and employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  The three bills, collectively referred to as the Transition toward Excellence, Achievement and Mobility (TEAM) Act, would amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Rehabilitation Act and the Developmental Disabilities Act to strengthen accountability, clarify expectations, expand flexibility and align systems to ensure that youth with significant disabilities have the opportunity to become gainfully employed, pursue a postsecondary education and contribute to their communities when they leave high school.  Text of the bills will be available soon on AUCD's Employment policy page.

White House
In an effort to keep the public more informed, the White House is hosting monthly calls to update advocates on various disability issues and introduce persons who work on disability issues in the federal government.  The next call is Tuesday, February 15 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.  The topic will be the President's budget as it relates to people with disabilities.  Click here for call-in information and to sign up for the announcements.

Disability Policy Seminar
We look forward to seeing many of you at the Seminar on Monday!  You can still sign up to attend by visiting  Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will be at The Disability Policy Seminar to accept her award for Disability Policy Leadership.  Senator Mikulski was instrumental in the passage of "Rosa's Law" which replaced the outdated and stigmatizing term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" in many federal statutes.  She is also a strong supporter of the Lifespan Respite Care Act and other caregiver support laws.  The intellectual and developmental disability community will honor her at a luncheon on Tuesday, February 15.  Visit for more information about the event.  Or find out more about the Senator's work here.

For those of you who have already registered, we hope you have all made your appointments for Hill visits on February 16.  To prioritize you visits, see what Committees your members are on.  The Committees with jurisdiction over most disability programs are the Senate HELP, Finance, Budget and Appropriations.  In the House they are the Education and Workforce, Energy and Commerce (UCEDD and LEND authorization), Ways and Means, Budget and Appropriations.  AUCD's Action Center provides links to Committees and Subcommittee:


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


AUCD | 1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 920 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910