AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 22, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 22, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 8
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Congressional Schedule
Congress is on recess this week returning to Washington, DC the week of February 28.  This is a good time to meet with your Members of Congress to educate them about the work of your Centers as well as to discuss the impact that the House budget cuts, if passed, would have on people with disabilities and their families. Please see
AUCD's action center and the Disability Policy Seminar fact sheets for information on current issues.

FY 2011 Appropriations
At 4:40 a.m. on Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a bill (HR1) on a party-line vote (235-189) that includes massive cuts totaling $61 billion to discretionary programs.  The bill provides funding for federal government programs for the rest of the current fiscal year (FY 2011).  AUCD network programs are spared from cuts in the House plan; however, HR 1 includes cutbacks from other programs that impact people with disabilities, including the full elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Services (-$1 billion); supported employment state grants (-$28 million); and a cut to the Maternal and Child Block Grant of -$50 million.  Senate Democrats have already stated their opposition to the level of cuts, but have agreed to make more modest cuts.  The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post report that a "Gang of Six" is working on a bi-partisan deficit reduction plan modeled after the Fiscal Commission's recommendations.  The Gang of Six includes Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), as well as four commission members who supported the recommendations, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Richard Durbin (D-IL).

If the two sides cannot come to agreement before March 4 when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires, there could be a government shut-down similar to the one experienced in the 1995 budget standoff.  Federal agencies would have to designate "critical" personnel to keep working during a shutdown, but routine work related to servicing grantees or reviewing applications would likely be affected. 

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities recently released a report on the impact of budget cuts proposed by House Republican leaders.  The report includes state-by-state data on education and job training, as well as the mental health and substance abuse block grant.

Health Care Reform
During the marathon debate on the House continuing resolution (HR 1), it was reported that nine amendments offered by Republicans aimed at "defunding" the health care law were approved.  Among those approved is Rep. Denny Rehberg's (R-MT) amendment, which bans all payments to "any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency" to implement the law.  The House passed another amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that would deny any implementation funds in the CR and block salaries to enforce the entire law.  The House approved another measure by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) to block funding for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the individual mandate.  None of the measures completely "defund" the health care law, because large sums of money are out of the reach of the appropriations bill.  However, together these amendments would make it very difficult to implement the law, or worse, it would be implemented poorly.  Senate Democrats have already stated that the House bill is a non-starter.

FY 2012 Budget
At the same time that Congress is working to resolve funding for the rest of the current fiscal year, the President released his Budget Request for FY 2012.  His budget would eliminate or trim more than 200 programs and reduce the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade.  Two-thirds of the savings would come from cuts to domestic spending.  Many disability programs have been level-funded, some received small increases, and some have been cut or consolidated.  The request makes no cuts to entitlements and would allow the high-income Bush tax cuts to expire in 2012.

Overall, the DD programs are cut by $23 million in the President's request.  University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) would receive $39 million, the same as FY 2010.  DD councils and Protection & Advocacy are also level-funded at $75 million and $41 million respectively.  However, the Projects of National Significance (PNS) is cut from $14 million to $8 million.  There is no stated justification for the PNS cut.  The Voter Access (HAVA) funding is eliminated with a justification for this cut that "States have not expended available funds in a timely way."  For the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs, the budget provides an increase of $2.6 million out of $55 million for the HRSA "autism and developmental disabilities" line item authorized by the Combating Autism Act (CAA).  The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funds the research centers (IDDRCs), would see an increase of $23.4 million to $1.35 billion.  Total funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be increased by $744 million to $31.9 billion, showing the continued priority research holds in this administration.

A full analysis of the President's Budget related to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education is available on AUCD's website.

Developmental Disabilities Act
The National Council on Disability recently released a report entitled Rising Expectations: The Developmental Disabilities Act Revisited.  The report reflects the results of a year-long study of how the programs authorized by the DD Act are meeting the needs of people with developmental disabilities and their families.  The report highlights a number of accomplishments of the UCEDDs and AUCD, and makes recommendations for improvements of all of the DD Act programs.  It recommends that Congress increase appropriations for the UCEDD network, and reauthorize and fund separately the Title II Family Support Program and the Title III program for Direct Support Workers.  AUCD issued a press release on the report.

Representative David Vitter (R-LA) recently introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, S. 103.  The bill amends the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to reauthorize and make appropriations for the grant program to assist states in providing special education and related services to children with disabilities.  It decreases the authorized funding amounts (how much Congress could appropriate) and makes appropriations for fiscal year 2011 and years thereafter.  It would also set a formula for determining authorization amounts in the future.

Disability Policy Seminar
Armed with lots of information following two days of intense sessions on budget and appropriations, health care, employment and other legislative issues impacting people with disabilities, the over 600 participants of the annual disability policy blanketed Capitol Hill to educate their Members.  Of the 600, approximately 200 identified as members of AUCD and approximately half of that total were trainees of network UCEDD or LEND programs - a record representation of the network!  Congratulations to all of those who made the commitment to travel to DC, study the details, and trek the Halls of Congress. If you could not travel to D.C., please consider reviewing the
fact sheets and presentations online and educating your Members while they are in their District/State offices!

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

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