AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 10, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 10, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 41
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Congressional Schedule
Congress returns tomorrow after taking the Columbus Day holiday.  The House and Senate will spend most of the week on bills concerning veterans' issues and international trade.  The Senate plans to vote on a motion to limit debate and proceed to a vote on a jobs bill that closely resembles President Obama's American Jobs Act (S. 1660) this week.  Although the bill is unlikely to pass, the vote will set the tone for negotiations over legislation to help boost the nation's economy. 

FY 2012 Appropriations
The House passed a continuing resolution (CR) on Tuesday to keep the government running through November 18.  House and Senate appropriators hope to avoid passing another short-term appropriations bill and instead come to agreement by November 18 on a final omnibus bill for FY 2012 that includes funding for all discretionary programs.  Both House and Senate leaders have agreed to accept the total $1.043 trillion overall cap on funding passed in the Budget Control Act on August 2.  This represents a $7 billion cut from the FY 2011 spending levels.
 The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed 11 of the 12 annual spending bills.  The House Appropriations Committee has passed 9 of the 12 bills; six have been passed by the full House.

Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations
The bill that most impacts the AUCD network and other disability programs, the L-HHS-ED funding bill, has been passed only by the Senate Appropriations Committee.  In the House, Subcommittee Chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) has released a "draft" bill and posted it on the committee website; however, it is so controversial that markup in his committee has been indefinitely postponed.  The House draft bill would cut UCEDD programs by $3 million, make huge cuts to other job training and education programs, eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service, and prevent the use of funds to implement many parts of the Affordable Care Act.  Unfortunately, this draft will still likely be used to negotiate an omnibus bill with the Senate.  Senate appropriators are hoping to complete work on their L-HHS-ED funding bill to gain leverage in conference negotiations.

Deficit Reduction Negotiations
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has continued to meet behind closed doors in the last couple of weeks as they negotiate a plan to identify $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.  House and Senate committees have until this Friday to submit their recommendations to the committee for consideration.  The committee must agree to a plan by Thanksgiving, then submit legislative language to Congress and the President by December 2.  Congress has until December 23 to pass the bill using fast-track procedures; otherwise, it will have to clear the usual hurdles in both chambers. 

AUCD and other members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities continue to meet with members of key congressional committees and leadership to educate them about the critical services and supports that discretionary and entitlement programs provide to people with disabilities, as well as Medicaid's role in supporting people in the community.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to contact your members of Congress about this issue.

Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) are expected to release a draft bill this week to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill next Tuesday, October 18.  The House has approached ESEA reform in a series of bills, only one of which (HR 2218) has gained bipartisan support and passed the House.  To see all education bills introduced this Congress, visit AUCD's Action Center and click on Current Legislation. 

Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Tim Bishop (D-NY) introduced Tuesday the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011 (H.R. 3086).  The bill would phase out Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which allows employers holding special wage certificates to pay their workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. 

Health Care Reform
The Institute of Medicine released a new report Friday that provides the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with a set of criteria and methods to develop a package of essential health benefits.  Under the Affordable Care Act, certain insurance plans, including those participating in the state-based health insurance exchanges, must cover a package of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic services and products in areas that have been defined as essential by HHS.  The package will establish the minimum benefits that plans must cover; insurers may offer additional benefits.  The report neither recommends a list of essential benefits nor comments on whether any particular service should be included or excluded, as doing so would have been beyond the committee's charge.  More analyses will be shared as they become available.


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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