AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 6, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 6, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 6
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Congressional Schedule
The conference committee negotiating extensions of the Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits will continue to meet this week.  News sources report that the committee has completed its review of the policies but has not finalized plans to cover the costs of the extensions.  AUCD is monitoring the negotiations because the tax cut impacts the solvency of the Social Security trust fund, and some lawmakers have proposed taking funds from the health reform law to pay for the measure.  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on "The Promise of Accessible Technology" Tuesday. 

The House of Representatives passed, 267-159, a bill (H.R. 1173) to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act on Wednesday.  Twenty-eight Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the measure.  Following the vote, Senator John Thune (R-SD) issued a news release calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to allow an immediate vote on Thune's companion bill (S. 270).  But some Senate Democrats have already criticized the House effort to repeal the program without creating an alternative, and the bill has little chance of advancing in the Senate.  The CLASS Act creates a national, voluntary insurance program to help people pay for long-term services and supports when they have or develop functional impairments.  Last October, the Obama administration suspended work on the program after determining that they could not meet the law's requirements that the program be voluntary, affordable and solvent over 75 years.  In a recent statement, Henry Waxman (D-CA) said "...the solution is to amend the program, to make it work - not just repeal it and leave nothing in its place."  Visit AUCD's Action Center to find out how your Representative voted and send your feedback.  

Budget and Appropriations
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Friday that the Senate will not vote on a budget resolution for fiscal year 2013 because the year's overall budget cap for discretionary funding was established by the Budget Control Act, the debt ceiling deal passed last fall.  The House of Representatives, however, is moving forward with a budget resolution that will likely be unveiled in March.  The budget resolution serves as a blueprint for the annual appropriations process by establishing various budget totals and allocations.  The House has also been considering a number of bills to reform the annual budget process.  This week, it will consider a bipartisan bill (HR 3521) to give the President line-item veto authority with congressional approval.  The President is expected to release his budget request for fiscal year 2013 next Monday, February 13.   

Democratic education leaders in Congress recently raised concerns over the first round of ESEA Flexibility requests that states submitted to the Department of Education in November.  When work to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) stalled in Congress last fall, the Department created a plan to allow states to request a waiver from key provisions in the law (known as No Child Left Behind).  In a letter sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on January 17, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) raised concerns that some of the pending applications would not ensure proper accountability of student subgroups, including students with disabilities, and would not lead to progress in graduation rates and teacher evaluations.  Furthermore, before waivers are awarded to states, the letter urges the Secretary to set a high bar for approval and require "robust and meaningful accountability measures" from all applicantsThe deadline for states to apply for the second round of ESEA Flexibility waivers is February 21.  As of January 23, 27 States, D.C., and Puerto Rico have submitted an intent to request ESEA Flexibility for the second window.

Social Security
AUCD signed onto a Statement for the Record in response to the January 24th House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee hearing focusing on waste, fraud and abuse in the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.  Written by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force, the statement addresses issues such as providing the Social Security Administration (SSA) with adequate resources to conduct its vital services to people with disabilities and the need for an improved system of dealing with earnings to prevent overpayments.  The statement emphasizes that overpayments, in and of themselves, do not indicate fraud or abuse of the system.

Family Support
ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center recently released a new guide, "Federal Funding and Support for Respite: Building Blocks for Lifespan Respite Systems," outlining basic information about each of the federal programs that could provide respite funding or support.  The guide is designed for state Lifespan Respite Care Programs and their partners to help identify funding sources, but is also useful to family caregivers or those who assist them in helping to identify sources of funding that could be used to pay for respite.

2012 Disability Policy Seminar: Registration Now Open!
Plan to join us in Washington, D.C. April 23-25 for the ultimate gathering of advocates for people with disabilities.  This year, we'll be focusing on election-year issues and how to make a difference with grassroots advocacy.  On March 28, AUCD will host a webinar to help you get the most out of your time in D.C.  Click here to register for the webinar.  You can register for the Seminar and book your room at The Grand Hyatt now at


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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