AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 11, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  July 11, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 28
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Congressional Schedule
Both the House and Senate are in session this week and will hold important hearings related to autism, employment and child maltreatment.

FY 2012 Budget & Appropriations
Both parties have set this week as the deadline for lawmakers to reach an agreement to raise the nation's debt limit in order to have time to write legislation and move it through both chambers before August 2, the date when the federal government is expected to default on some of its financial obligations if the limit is not raised.  Many experts have warned that if the government does default, the economic consequences could be dire.  Over the weekend, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he was no longer aiming to come to agreement with President Obama on a broad deficit reduction package, saying that the negotiations broke down because of the administration's demands to include revenue increases in addition to spending cuts.  He said he would instead aim for a smaller package discussed by the bipartisan group convened by Vice President Joe Biden. 

President Obama held a press conference this morning, saying that he continues to meet with congressional leaders and push for the broadest possible deal.  He stated that he would not consider a short-term debt limit measure, and that lawmakers must be willing to put political ideologies aside to solve the deficit problem. 

Still, both parties will find it difficult to win enough votes to pass even a compromise deal.  Conservative Republicans have been adamant in their refusal to support a deal that includes any tax increases, while liberal Democrats have warned that some tax increases for corporations and the wealthy will be necessary to win their votes. 

Combating Autism Act
The House Subcommittee on Health held a
hearing today on public health legislation, including the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (HR 2005).  Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health and chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), testified about the progress made under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and the work of the IACC.  In his written testimony, he states that "since the passage of the CAA in 2006, there has been a groundswell of activity on multiple fronts, from game-changing scientific discoveries reshaping the field of autism research to real-world applications that can help people with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorders] and their families now."  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (S. 1094) on July 20.  The House and Senate bills are identical, and would extend the law for three years at current funding levels. 

Employment and Autism Markup
The Senate HELP Committee again postponed a scheduled markup that includes bills to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (no bill number), Combating Autism Act (S. 1094), and Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act (S. 958).  The reason for the delay is not related to opposition to the CAA or the disability provisions in the WIA.

Employment Hearing
On July 14, the HELP committee will hold a
hearing on employment for persons with disabilities entitled "Lessons from the Field: Learning From What Works for Employment for Persons with Disabilities."  Witnesses will include Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor at the Office of Disability Employment Policy, and Tom Ridge, chairman of the Board of the National Organization on Disability. 

Advocacy groups have been busily working to shore up support of Medicaid programs in order to combat cuts proposed during ongoing budget negotiations.  Last week, organizations such as The Arc, MomsRising, and Family Voices brought individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to meet with White House officials to discuss the important role Medicaid plays in the lives of millions of Americans.  In a White House blog entry, Jon Carson, Deputy Assistant to President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, wrote, "The families my colleagues met with traveled many miles to share their stories with us and as the discussion about our fiscal future continues, we will be doing all we can to fight for them and the millions of Americans who depend on Medicaid each and every day."  The Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), of which AUCD is a member, is sponsoring two families to come to Washington, DC this week and share the importance of Medicaid programs in their lives.

Last week, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and Providence Health & Services reported that expanding low income adults' access to Medicaid substantially increases health care use, reduces financial strain on covered individuals, and improves their self-reported health and well-being.  This is the first study to evaluate the impact of insuring the uninsured in the U.S. using a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard in medical and scientific studies.

John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced a bill on Thursday called the "State and Local Funding Flexibility Act" (
H.R. 2445).  The bill is the third in a series of education reform bills and would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to allow state and local educational agencies maximum flexibility to use federal funds provided under the law.  The Committee will mark up the bill Wednesday.

Twenty-four Senators recently signed a "Dear Colleague" letter to Senate appropriators urging them to provide the highest possible funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in fiscal year 2012.  The letter emphasizes that the continued underfunding of IDEA, in combination with current state fiscal crises, forces school districts to either raise taxes or use general education funds to make up for the shortfall. 

Child Abuse & Neglect
The House Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday on child deaths due to maltreatment, focusing on a Government Accountability Office report on what is known about the circumstances of child deaths due to maltreatment, state approaches to gathering and reporting this information and what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is doing to support the collection and accurate reporting of this data.


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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