AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 3, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 3, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 40
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Congressional Schedule
Both the House and Senate return from a short recess this week.  The House will consider a continuing resolution to fund the government through November 18. 

Combating Autism Reauthorization Act
Late last Tuesday, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) lifted his hold and the Senate passed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2005) by unanimous consent.  The bill was the last to be passed before Congress adjourned for the week-long recess.  On Friday, President Obama signed the bill into law!   AUCD Executive Director George Jesien was invited to witness the signing in a small White House oval office ceremony.  He was joined by House bill sponsor Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), Autism Society President Scott Badesch, and Autism Speaks co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, along with Board Member Billy Mann and his wife Gena and son Jasper who has Autism.  For more information, see
AUCD's press release.  The law extends programs authorized by the Combating Autism Act of 2006 for three years at current funding levels. 

FY 2012 Appropriations
The House on Thursday approved a continuing resolution (CR), or temporary spending bill, allowing the government to function through Tuesday and giving House lawmakers time to vote on a six-week funding measure already approved by the Senate.  That bill would fund the government through November 18. 

The same day, House appropriators released a draft of the Appropriations Subcommittee's FY 2012 spending bill that contains drastic cuts to many domestic programs and includes many controversial policy provisions that most Hill watchers say will prevent the bill from becoming law.  The House draft cuts funding for the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities by $3 million.  The Senate Committee had provided level-funding, the same as the President's request.  The other core Developmental Disabilities Act programs, such as the State Developmental Disabilities Councils and Protection & Advocacy systems receive level-funding in both the House and Senate bills.  The House and Senate Committees both cut the Projects of National Significance (PNS) by $5.8 million to $8.3 million, the same as the President's request.

The House draft appropriations bill also includes a number of provisions aimed at preventing implementation of the Affordable Care Act (until 90 days after the end of all legal challenges to the law).  It would also end the Obama Administration's "Race to the Top" education program, which has awarded $4.3 billion in grants to 11 states and D.C.  However, the bill also provides a $1 billion increase in grants to low-income school districts and a $1.2 billion increase for special education (IDEA). 

It is unclear how Congress will resolve the major differences between the House and Senate funding priorities before the November 18 deadline.  AUCD will be watching the negotiations closely and is working within the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Coalition on Health Funding to advocate for the highest possible funding levels for programs important to people with disabilities and their families.

The U.S. Department of Education held a forum for stakeholders Thursday to discuss its plans to grant states flexibility from requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The archived webcast can be viewed on the Department's Ustream channel.  The Department has also created a webpage for materials and more information about ESEA flexibility. 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will mark up a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on October 18.  The bill has not yet been introduced, but is expected soon.  Republican lawmakers in the House may seek to have their ESEA bill (H.R. 1571) introduced as an amendment to the Senate bill during the markup.  Disability advocates are concerned about the House bill because it contains provisions that would allow unlimited use of alternate assessments, which could prevent students with disabilities from being included in school accountability systems.  AUCD has signed on to a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force expressing concerns about the bill. 

The president issued a Proclamation today in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, stating, "Americans with disabilities, like all Americans, are entitled to not only full participation in our society, but also full opportunity in our society. Their talents and contributions are vital to the strength of our Nation's workforce and our future prosperity. Together, we can ensure persons living with disabilities have equal access to employment, and to inclusive, supportive workplaces."


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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