AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 23, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  July 23, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 29
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Anniversary of the ADA
AUCD celebrates the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Thursday, July 26th.  Several AUCD staff will participate in a celebration at the White House hosted by the Obama Administration; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee picked the anniversary date to markup the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Disability Treaty
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (
see announcement) Thursday, the 22nd Anniversary of the ADA.  The vote was postponed last week due to opposition to the treaty from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, supported by former Senator Rick Santorum, and several current Senators, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).  Last week, disability advocates made visits to key Senate offices to show their unified support of the treaty.   Testimony from the July 12th hearing on the CRPD, including a statement in support of the treaty from former Senator Bob Dole, can be found here.  If the treaty is approved by the Committee, it will need 67 votes to pass the full Senate.  Please visit AUCD's action center to contact and educate your Senators about the CRPD.  Visit USICD's website to sign a joint letter in support of the CRPD.

The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), approved its fiscal 2013 draft bill on a party-line vote (8-6).  While the bill text provides little details about specific programs, the bill makes steep cuts of approximately 19 percent to programs under its jurisdiction.  The bill's spending cap, which was set well below the agreed upon cap from last summer's Budget Control Act, was the impetus for the deep spending cuts.  In addition, the bill provides no funding to implement the Affordable Care Act and eliminates funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund.  Specific funding levels for AUCD network programs will not be known until a Committee report is released following a markup by the Appropriations Committee; however, it is unclear when the full committee will schedule a markup.  The bill is unlikely to reach the House floor before the November elections.  A continuing resolution (CR) to continue funding for programs under the bill's jurisdiction will likely be passed before the end of the fiscal year (September 30).  The funding level for the CR is still under negotiation.

Discretionary Spending Cuts (Sequestration)
AUCD has been involved with a large coalition of organizations representing individuals and families impacted by the looming 8-10 percent automatic cuts (sequester) to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, including UCEDD, IDDRC, and LEND programs.  The coalition has recently developed a tool kit for grassroots action that includes:
a customizable NDD Fact Sheet, a sample press release (for organizations that wish to showcase their involvement), the sign-on letter with the nearly 3,000 signatures, a Social Media Tip Sheet, and a Media Talking Points Sheet, all of which are now available on AUCD's policy homepage.  Watch for more specific action alerts prior to upcoming August recess.

Tax Legislation
The Senate is scheduled to consider a temporary extension of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 under the Presidency of George W. Bush on Tuesday. The bill (S. 3393), sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), will extend for one year the tax cuts for households earning up to $250,000 per year.  These tax cuts are scheduled to expire in December.  AUCD supports this bill because it helps ensure that revenue is raised fairly to pay for critical disability services and supports.  AUCD signed onto a letter signed by over 100 national organizations concerned with our economy and jobs, as well as protecting critical services for the middle class and the most vulnerable segments of the population.  The letter urges Congress to approve the bill.  Allowing the tax cuts to expire for households making over $250,000 a year (the top 2% of earners) would generate about $1 trillion in revenues.  This funding is needed to help protect important disability programs (like Medicaid, Social Security, housing, education, and employment programs) from deep cuts and to reduce the deficit.

Health Care Reform
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will hold four regional forums to allow state officials and others to pose questions and provide comments about implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The forums will take place in the District of Columbia, Atlanta, Chicago and Denver; to register and view the schedule click here.  The D.C. forum will take place on August 14 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (this session will also be webcast). 

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, has introduced a bill to permanently authorize the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) programs.  WIPA and PABSS are both designed to help recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to attain economic self-sufficiency through return to work strategies and planning assistance.  The WIPA and PABSS Continuation of Services Act of 2012 (
H.R. 6061) would extend reauthorization of the programs indefinitely, eliminating all references to specific dates.  It currently has 16 democratic cosponsors.  Disability advocates are pleased with the introduction of this bill, but are not confident it will pass in the Subcommittee due to the lack of bipartisan support.  The best chance of continued funding for the programs is through the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bills.  Find more information about the bill, including a link to Rep. Becerra's introductory remarks, here

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, recently issued a report explaining his vision to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  The report, Unfinished Business: Making Employment of People with Disabilities a National Priority, outlines four policy areas in which Sen. Harkin intends to introduce bipartisan legislation: transition of youth to postsecondary education and competitive, integrated employment; helping disability-owned  businesses compete effectively; creating incentives for States to develop and test new models to support people with disabilities; and encouraging saving and asset development.

National Presidential Forum on Disability Issues
:  News anchor and journalist Judy Woodruff informed the planning committee that she is unable to moderate the Presidential Forum because of a scheduling conflict.  The committee is currently exploring new options.  An action alert went out last week asking individuals to help work on commitments of the presidential candidates by reaching out to their campaign offices.  If you have any personal connections with the candidates or their campaign staff, or would like to co-sponsor the forum, please contact Kim Musheno.  For more information on the forum, visit AUCD's Presidential Forum page, updated to include direct links to each candidate's social media pages and a copy of each personalized invitation that you are encouraged to use.  To further support the forum, like it on Facebook!  Note:  Registration becomes available August 3rd.

AUCD Fellowship in Disability Policy Leadership
AUCD is still accepting applications for the 2013 Disability Policy Leadership Fellow. The fellowship is a tremendous and rewarding opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of key legislation and federal policymaking.  The fellow will get to experience living and working in Washington, DC for one year, learn about AUCD and current federal legislation affecting people with disabilities and their families, and exercise strong leadership skills.  AUCD welcomes applications from any network member who is staff at a UCEDD, LEND, or IDDRC, or a graduate-level trainee.  Past fellows have included recent graduates and mid-career professionals with a variety of expertise in areas such as social work, education, disability studies, business administration, and law. 
Click here to find out more about the fellowship and to read about the experiences of the current fellow, Kristina Majewski, through her blog: "Transitioning into a Brave (New) World."  For more information and to apply, click here. The deadline for applications is July 30, 2012 or until the position is filled.


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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