AUCD Legislative News In Brief

April 11, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  April 11, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 16
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Congressional Schedule
Congress will vote on spending for the remainder of the fiscal year this week (see FY 2011 Appropriations).  The House presses forward with FY 2012 spending with a vote on the 2012 budget resolution (see FY 2012 Budget & Appropriations). 

FY 2011 Appropriations
Narrowly avoiding a government shutdown, Congress passed and the President signed a one-week continuing resolution Saturday after Democratic and Republican leaders finally agreed on long-term spending levels for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.  This week, lawmakers are hammering out the details of that deal and drafting it into legislative language to be voted on by Friday.  The final deal reportedly includes $37.7 billion in cuts from previous spending levels, with $1.1 billion coming from an across-the-board cut in discretionary programs, with the exception of defense spending, which is increased over FY 2010 levels.  Of the roughly $20 billion in cuts to domestic discretionary programs, about $13 billion comes from the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments.  The National Institutes of Health was spared, and negotiators protected funding for current enrollment levels in Head Start programs.  In the end, Republicans conceded their efforts to include several controversial provisions, so-called "policy riders", which would have blocked funding for implementation of the health reform law.  However, Democrats did agree to fund various studies on the potential problems in implementing the Affordable Care Act, which will likely serve as ammunition for Republicans opposing the law.

FY 2012 Budget & Appropriations
Last Tuesday House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his FY 2012 budget plan, entitled "The Path to Prosperity."  The resolution proposes to set non-security discretionary spending at FY 2006 levels until FY 2016.  The plan also calls for major restructuring in entitlement programs, including a block grant structure for Medicaid, which would result in millions more uninsured or underinsured.  Two-thirds of the proposed budget cuts would come from programs for low-income Americans.  The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Fiscal Policy Task Force co-chairs immediately sent a letter to Representatives urging them to oppose the bill because its cuts would disproportionately impact individuals with disabilities.  AUCD also signed on to a letter from the Coalition on Human Needs opposing resolution.  The Center for Budget & Policy Priorities has developed several analyses of the House Budget Resolution and its impact on states and low-income individuals.

The House Budget Committee voted for the Ryan Budget on a party-line vote last week.  The House is expected to pass it this week.  The Senate, however, will not take up the Ryan plan at all.  Instead, a group of Republican and Democratic senators known as the "Gang of Six" is working on a bi-partisan proposal based on recommendations from the President's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that will be released after the spring recess.

Finally, President Obama announced that he will address the nation on Wednesday and that he plans to present his own plan to reduce the deficit in the coming weeks.

Health Care Reform
The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill (H.R. 1217) to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act.  The Fund supports disease prevention, research and the public health workforce, and helps states and local communities fill demands for services and programs.  For months, it has been a target for those who want to halt implementation of the law and use the money for other purposes.  To contact your Representative about protecting the Fund, visit AUCD's Action Center.  For more information about the Fund and funding distributed to states this year, see the Trust for America's Health Report, "The New Prevention Fund: An Investment in the Future Health of America." 

Restraint & Seclusion
Representative George Miller (D-CA), along with 17 cosponsors including Gregg Harper (R-MS), introduced Wednesday the bipartisan Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 1381) to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.  The bill is identical to H.R. 4247, which was passed by the House during the last Congress.  In the Senate, staff of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee report that Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is also working on a bill to limit restraint and seclusion.  For Miller's press release and the text of the bill, visit AUCD's Restraint & Seclusion policy page.

Lifespan Respite
The U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) recently announced the availability of approximately $2.25 million for the implementation of the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006.  This money will allow states to establish, enhance, or expand their Lifespan Respite Care systems.  AoA will award up to 12 states with federal funding of up to $200,000 for three year projects.  These projects must propose to serve all eligible unpaid caregivers.  They must also enhance the state's respite services and improve the access to these services.  Applications are due on Friday, May 20, 2011.  Letters of intent to apply must be submitted by Monday, April 25, 2011.  For more information on this opportunity, visit the AoA's website.

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

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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