AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 20, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  June 20, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 25
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Congressional Schedule
The House and Senate are both in session this week.  Lawmakers continue to negotiate deficit reduction strategies and an increase in the federal debt limit.

FY 2012 Budget & Appropriations
Bipartisan lawmakers meeting with Vice President Joe Biden enter their eighth week of negotiations on a deal to reduce the deficit and raise the federal debt limit.  The group will meet as many as four times this week as it continues to work through the two most difficult issues: taxes and entitlements.  Biden still hopes to have a package ready by early July to give Congress time to act before August 2, the date when the government would risk defaulting on its debts.  The talks have been very secretive, and members from each party are approaching the negotiations carefully. 

Meanwhile, Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), a member of the "Gang of Six" Senators that had been working toward its own bipartisan proposal, is pushing his colleagues to release their own deficit reduction plan  in case the Biden talks fail to produce a meaningful long-term deal.  Conrad may be close to completing his chamber's budget resolution, which would reportedly cut the deficit by $4 trillion over ten years. 

Combating Autism Act
The Senate bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act (CAA, S. 1094) now has ten bipartisan cosponsors; the House companion bill (H.R. 2005) now has 13 bipartisan cosponsors.  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is currently scheduled to markup S. 1094 on June 29.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee has not yet scheduled a markup.  AUCD members are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to educate them about the importance of reauthorizing this law.  If your members have already cosponsored the bill, please do not forget to thank them!  See links to the
bill text and an action alert on AUCD's website.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will mark up the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act (
H.R. 2218) Wednesday.  The bill is aimed at consolidating funding streams into the existing state grant program under the Charter School Program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to support new charter school startups and replicate or expand high-quality charter school models.  It was introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Chairman of the Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood and Elementary and Secondary Education, and is cosponsored by Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN). 

Health and Human Services Secretary and U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin joined other administration officials Thursday to unveil the first ever
National Prevention Strategy.  Required by the Affordable Care Act, the strategy outlines four strategic directions that are fundamental to improving the nation's health: Building Healthy and Safe Community Environments; Expanding Quality Preventive Services in Both Clinical and Community Settings; Empowering People to Make Healthy Choices; and Eliminating Health Disparities.  For more information, see the HHS press release.

Medicaid and Medicare
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday entitled "Dual-Eligibles: Understanding This Vulnerable Population and How to Improve Their Care" to examine the population of individuals who are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid.  Melanie Bella, director of the Federal Coordinated Health Care Office at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will be one of several witnesses.

Staff from the offices of Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have been working over the past two years in a bipartisan effort to renew and improve the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  A draft bill was released late last week for stakeholder input.  A key goal of this reauthorization proposal, according to staff, is to improve, align, and coordinate employment, education, training, and vocational rehabilitation services.  Title V includes amendments to the Rehabilitation Act and vocational rehabilitation programs.  This title includes new provisions related to transitioning youth with disabilities and promoting employment first policies.  AUCD's Legislative Affairs Committee is currently reviewing the drafts.  The next step will be for the HELP Committee to consider the bill, which is expected to take place on June 29.  There are no companion bills in the House to date.  Please contact
Kim Musheno for more information. 

The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force have released '
Priced Out in 2010', the 7th edition in the Priced Out series.  The report revealed that in 2010, the annual income of a single individual receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments was over 20 percent below the 2010 federal poverty level of $10,830.  Since the first Priced Out study was published in 1998, the value of SSI payments compared to median income has declined while national average rents have risen over 50 percent during the same time period.  In 2010, a single-person household received an average monthly SSI payment of $703, although this amount is less than the monthly rent for most apartments across the nation.  The study not only sheds light on the housing crisis experienced by people with extremely low income and significant long-term disabilities, but discusses implications of the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010, which, if fully implemented, would create over 50,000 new permanent supportive housing opportunities within five years.  This report is a good resource to use when advocating for federal and state resources for housing for individuals with disabilities.


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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