AUCD Legislative News In Brief

August 13, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  August 13, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 32
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Congressional Schedule
Congress is in recess until the week of September 10th.  When they return, there are very few legislative days left and lots of important work to do, including finalizing FY 2013 appropriations, ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (see August 6 In Brief), reauthorizing agriculture programs ("farm bill"), and extending the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Act.

Disability advocates should be contacting their Senators and Representatives while they are in their home states.  AUCD issued a recess action alert and has contacted selected Centers to work on educating Senators about the CRPD.  See AUCD's Action Center for talking point or information about other important issues.

National Presidential Forum on Disabilities
Registration is now open
  for the only presidential forum focusing on disability policy issues.  This historic event will take place on September 28 in Columbus, Ohio.  It will bring together the diverse disability community to demonstrate the power of the disability vote and raise the visibility of disability issues during the election.  So far, over 50 disability organizations have come together to co-sponsor the event.  Approximately 500 people will attend the event in person.  Tickets are free and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Thousands of others across the country will join a live webcast of the event.  This is the only forum of its kind and only the second time an event like this has ever been organized.  More information about the forum can be found on the Forum website at:

In related news, Gov. Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice presidential running mate.  Ryan is the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and chief architect of the FY 2013 House Budget Resolution, which, among other troubling provisions, would defund the Affordable Care Act, restructure and cut Medicaid, and drastically cut many non-defense discretionary programs that provide services and supports to people with disabilities. 

FY 2013 Budget & Appropriations
When Congress returns from recess, one of the most important action items will be to pass the six-month continuing resolution (CR) to continue funding for all government programs into the new fiscal year that begins October 1.  This CR is needed because the Congress has failed to pass any of the 12 annual funding bills.  The six-month CR, agreed to just before the August recess, is presumed to provide level funding for most programs.  This action will prevent a government shut-down just before the November elections.  However, the Congress will still have to deal with the looming sequester - automatic, across-the-board spending cuts - scheduled to begin in January, the expiring 2001 tax cuts, and the possibility of reaching the debt limit.

With so much at stake in the short- and long-term budget and appropriations negotiations, AUCD has been urging the Congress and the Administration to take a long-term and balanced approach to deficit reduction that considers revenues, not just spending cuts.  AUCD sent an action alert with talking points for the network to use to educate their members of Congress over the recess.  AUCD has also been working with other national organizations concerned about federal funding for research, education, and services.  One of the coalitions, the Non-Defense Discretionary Summit has developed a new toolkit with sample letters, editorials, fact sheets, etc. that is helpful in making the case for a balanced approach.

A report released last week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzes the impact of plans that do not include revenues: Deficit-Reduction Package That Lacks Significant Revenues Would Shift Very Substantial Costs To States And Localities: Ryan Budget Cuts to State and Local Services Would Be Far Deeper than Cuts Under Sequestration.  According to the report, the House-passed budget from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (now vice presidential contender) is indicative of the sort of approach Congress likely would take if it rejects a balanced approach.  Cuts in funding for state and local governments under the Ryan plan would be much deeper than the automatic cuts (or "sequester") scheduled to begin in January, the report says.  The report also includes state-by-state data.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program has not been reauthorized since 2005.  According to the National Child Abuse Coalition staff working closely on this issue, if the program is not reauthorized, the block grant funding, along with the related child care funding, will run out by October 1.  While a deal on an extension seemed close in mid-July, guidance issued by the Administration on July 12 on the use of waivers has become controversial.  The HHS guidance offers states flexibility in how work for adults receiving benefits is structured.  For more information, see the guidance on the waivers on the HHS website.

Related to TANF, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities just released a new report examining how states have used their federal and state funds under TANF and how the change to a block grant in 1996 has impacted beneficiaries.  It shows that with the TANF block grant in place, the cash assistance safety net for the nation's poorest families with children has grown weaker, not stronger.

In July, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report entitled
Students with   Disabilities: Better Coordination Could Lessen Challenges in the Transition from High School.  The report outlines some of the challenges students and families encounter during transition from high school, including the lack of coordination among service agencies, multiple eligibility requirements and the need for trained coordinators or case managers.  The authors also offer recommendations for the secretaries of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, including identifying legislative solutions and communicating them to Congress.

Health Care Reform
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a
report on the states' implementation of the Medicaid expansion within the Affordable Care Act.  The report might be helpful to advocates assisting states with the ACA requirements related to Medicaid.

AUCD Fellowship in Disability Policy Leadership
AUCD is still accepting applications for the 2013 Disability Policy Leadership Fellow. 
Click here to find out more about the fellowship.  This is a fantastic opportunity for network members to learn about disability policy development "hands-on".  Feel free to email Kim Musheno with questions or a letter of interest.  The deadline for applications has been extended to August 30.


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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