AUCD Legislative News In Brief

May 31, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  May 31, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 22
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Congressional Schedule
The Senate is on recess this week, but will hold a series of pro forma sessions (no business is conducted during pro forma sessions).  The House is in session and will begin consideration of the first appropriations measures of the year and a bill to raise the federal debt limit.

FY 2012 Budget & Appropriations
The Senate rejected on a nearly party-line vote Wednesday a motion to consider the House budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 34), drafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).  Four Republicans joined all Democrats in defeating the measure, largely due to its proposal to convert Medicare into a voucher program.  Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) has held off introducing a budget resolution in his chamber until knowing the results of bipartisan discussions being led by Vice President Joe Biden.  Because the Senate has not passed a budget resolution, its Appropriation Committee has not yet begun marking up any of the twelve annual spending bills.  The House, however, will proceed with its work on appropriations bills this week, including consideration of a bill to raise the federal debt limit.  The bill is not expected to pass, and the symbolic vote is designed to show that cuts in federal spending will be required in exchange for raising the debt limit. 
On May 26, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) introduced companion bills to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (CAA).  The "Combating Autism Reauthorization Act" (H.R. 2005, S. 1094) reauthorizes the CAA for another three years with no other substantive changes.  Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Scott Brown (R-MA) were also original co-sponsors.  The House and Senate sponsors also announced that they had introduced two additional bills, the "Autism Spectrum Disorders Services Act," and the "The National Autism Spectrum Disorders Initiative Act," to address services for youth and adults and to put more federal emphasis on autism research.  The ASD Services Act includes many of the provisions that had been part of a bill introduced late in the last Congress by Sen. Chris Dodd, including a provision that would provide funding for UCEDD training and technical assistance.  The "Initiative" bill is related to federal research at NIH.  See links to letters and text of the legislation on AUCD's Autism policy page.  AUCD is working with Congress and other advocates to help move the reauthorization bills as quickly as possible, as portions of the law will expire if not reauthorized before September 30. 

Older Americans Act
Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee testified last week before the Senate Special Aging Committee on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.  During the hearing, Greenlee recommended the following changes to the law: enhance caregiver supports to parents caring for their adult children with disabilities; include evidence-based interventions to improve the health of chronically ill people; move the Senior Community Service Employment program from the Department of Labor to the Administration on Aging (AoA); and provide permanent legal authority for the Senior Medicare Patrol Program, which encourages seniors to report suspected fraud.  Greenlee also stated that over the next four years, the number of Americans who are age 60 and older will increase by 15 percent to 65.7 million.  Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter also testified on caregiver issues, specifically urging more resources for the National Family Caregivers Support Program.  For more information and full statements, see the
Committee website.

After testifying, Greenlee spoke to reporters about the AoA's plan to issue proposed regulations implementing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act in October of 2012.  This is a good sign, and it confirms that the Office of CLASS is working hard to provide the country a sustainable and solvent long term care program.  Greenlee and her staff within the Office of CLASS are expected to make some changes to the CLASS program, which may include: increasing the minimum earnings requirement for enrollees, indexing premiums for inflation, and improving anti-fraud protections.  For more information about the CLASS Act, see AUCD's Summary of Long-Term Services and Supports provisions in the Affordable Care Act. 

The House Education and Workforce committee passed the first in a series of education reform bills on a party line vote of 23-16 Wednesday.  The Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act (HR 1891) aims to eliminate 43 federal education programs to considerably reduce education funding and the federal role in education.  To date, no bills have been introduced in the Senate to reauthorize or amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind).

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued new guidance Thursday on the rights of students with disabilities to have equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of technology in education.  The guidance provides information to elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education about their responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that technological devices are accessible to students with disabilities.  The guidance comes in the form of "Dear Colleague" letters and a Frequently Asked Questions document.  For more information and links to the guidance, see the press release.

The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced Wednesday a new $500 million state-level grant competition called the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.  The program is designed to reward states that create comprehensive plans to improve early learning systems.  Those that apply will be encouraged to "increase access to quality early learning programs for low income and disadvantaged children, design integrated and transparent systems that align their early care and education programs, bolster training and support for the early learning workforce, create robust evaluation systems to document and share effective practices and successful programs, and help parents make informed decisions about care for their children".  The application will be released later this summer with grants awarded to states no later than December 31. 


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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