Legislative News InBrief

January 8, 2007

Congressional Schedule
The new 110th Congress convened last week with the Democrats holding the majority for the first time in twelve years. By a partisan vote of 233 to 202, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was elected the first woman Speaker of the House in our nation's history. National security and foreign policy issues dominate the agenda of the first full week of the new Congress with hearings on the Administration's new Iraq policy. The Senate will also begin consideration of a bill to overhaul the ethic's rules (S. 1). The House will take up bills to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 (HR 2), to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for beneficiaries (HR 4), and to make it easier to fund embryonic stem cell research (HR 3).

FY 2007 Appropriations
Sen. Harkin (D-IA), incoming Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and his L-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee staff, met with a number of health and education groups, including AUCD, and urged them to continue to work to obtain the full $7 billion allocation for the programs funded under the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. Both Harkin and the staff noted that there may be some money available to fund selected programs above the FY 2006 level -- the level operating under the current CR for L-HHS-ED programs, and the level the new Appropriations Committee Chairmen (Obey and Byrd) have said they will fund programs in a final, year-long continuing resolution (CR). They acknowledged that Veterans healthcare and the Social Security Administration are likely to get first priority, but that groups should work to get the final $2 billion above the Senate Committee-passed version of the bill to reach the full $7 billion above the President's Budget Request. Staff stated they thought the year-long CR would be finished by Feb. 15. AUCD is working with the Administration and House and Senate Appropriators to ensure that the CR contains adequate funding to prevent a cut to the UCEDD funding level. See Jan. 2 and Dec. 18 issues of In Brief for more information.

Budget Rules
The House of Representatives passed new budget and earmark rules on Jan. 5 on a 280-152 vote as part of a larger rules package (H Res 6). The package includes a restoration of the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budget rules that will require offsets for any new entitlement spending or tax cuts. However, a point of order against a measure that violates the requirement can be waived by the full House. The Senate is also likely to take up and pass a PAYGO rule. In the Senate, a PAYGO rule could be waived with 60 votes. The Bush Administration opposes the measure.

The House also adopted rules that require the disclosure of earmarks and their sponsors must put their name on it. Requests for earmarks will have to include justifications and certification that the provisions will not benefit the Member or their spouse. The Senate will also consider a similar rule that will go further in requiring the earmarks and their owners be posted on the internet within 48 hours.

Abuse and Neglect Conference Planning
Kim Musheno, AUCD, participated in the first meeting of an advisory panel planning the next national/international Conference on Abuse of children and Adults with Disabilities. John Gillis, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, provided opening remarks. Ollie Cantos, disability liaison at the White House, also participated. The conference, tentatively planned for the Fall of 2008, will address best practices, research and policy issues. The meeting is hosted by The Arc Riverside CA and co-sponsored by the OVC.

Disability Policy Seminar Program
AUCD's Legislative Affairs Committee is working with its partners at The Arc, UCP, AAIDD (formerly AAMR) and NACDD to develop an exciting program for the 2007 Disability Policy Seminar. We expect the following public policy issues will take center stage: Developmental Disabilities Act, Family Support, Americans with Disabilities Act, Long-term Services and Supports, Education, Employment, Health, Housing, Budget and Appropriations, Social Security

A preliminary program and agenda are now available on the AUCD website (http://www.aucd.org/aucd_events.htm: scroll to links in both Word and PDF formats). Online registration is also available: https://www.aucd.org/meetings/gaseminar.cfm. For questions about the Seminar registration, please contact AAMR/AAIDD at 202-387-1968.