AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 17, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  September 17, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 37
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Congressional Schedule
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Friday afternoon that he does not anticipate the House will hold any votes during the week of Oct. 1. Cantor said that when the House returns to work next Wednesday, it would work on a bill disapproving of a Health and Human Services rule on work requirements for food stamps, and a bill called the Stop the War on Coal Act, H.R. 3409 sponsored by Rep. Johnson (R-OH).  The Senate will vote on the CR passed by the House last week (see Appropriations below).

FY 13 Appropriations
The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) [H.J. Res. 117] for FY 2013 to keep government programs operating from Oct. 1 to March 27, 2013.  The vote was 329-91. This means that AUCD network and other disability programs will continue at the same funding level as FY 2012.  The Senate is expected to pass the CR next week. The six month CR will enable the government to get past the elections without the threat of a shut-down (see also September 10 In Brief).  See the Executive Office's statement of support for the CR here.   

The CR does not fix the 9% automatic cuts to discretionary programs set to take place January 2, 2013.  The so-called "sequester" was set in motion by last year's agreement to raise the debt limit (Budget Control Act).  That law required automatic cuts to take place if the deficit reduction "super committee" could not come to agreement on a plan to cut at least $1.2 trillion over ten years.  While no one in Congress claims to support these cuts, there is no consensus on an alternative plan.  On Thursday, the House considered a largely symbolic (meaning neither the Senate nor the President will allow it to become law) bill (H.R. 6365) that would reduce the deficit through discretionary cuts without tax increases.  House Ways and Means ranking minority Sander Levin (D-MI) was quoted saying, "Balance is surrender; compromise is considered retreat."  Meanwhile, the White House released a report that provides an estimate from the Office of Management and Budget of how much would be cut from each federal account.  The report was mandated by the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-155).

The CR (see above), passed in the House on Thursday, requires the Secretary of Education to track the number of students (that fall within four categories - e.g. students with disabilities) taught by individuals enrolled in, but not yet having completed, an "alternative teaching certification program." A report of the findings must be submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee no later than December 31, 2013.  Though current law requires that teachers be "highly qualified," there is debate along party lines as to whether individuals in alternative programs fit the definition.  Senator Harkin (D-IA) stated, "If they're in training, then they're not highly qualified."  As for the programs themselves, most Democrats believe that while promising, policies must be in place to ensure they are effective and of high quality.  On the other hand, Republicans generally believe alternative certification routes help address teacher shortages, and argue schools should have the ability to use their discretion in hiring effective teachers. 

Disability Treaty
There is still a chance that the Senate could take up the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) either this week or during the lameduck session.  However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not schedule the treaty for a floor vote until he knows we have the 2/3 vote necessary to ratify it.  AUCD continues to work with others in the disability community to sure up the number of votes necessary for success.  AUCD thanks those in the network who have been actively educating their Senators on this issue.  For more information, or to take action, visit AUCD's
Action Center.

Social Security
On Friday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held the fifth hearing in a series on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.  The hearing focused on options to address the key structural and fiscal challenges facing the program.  AUCD joined 15 national disability rights organizations in signing onto testimony submitted by CCD's Social Security Task Force, which discussed the importance of the SSDI program for people with significant disabilities and the ways in which it could be strengthened.  Also, last week the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing on its investigation of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability programs.  Hearing testimony from several Administration Law Judges within the SSA, the Subcommittee examined "issues related to the quality of disability benefit awards involving 300 case files of claimants under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplement Security Income (SSI) programs involving initial applications and subsequent levels of appeal." 

2012 National Forum on Disability Issues
The Presidential Forum received some media attention over the past week. Today's Politico published a bipartisan Op-Ed by former Senator Bob Dole and former Rep. Tony Coelho highlighting the forum and extending an invitation to the presidential candidates - view here.  The NFDI, to be moderated by Frank Sesno (see Disability Scoop announcement), is only two weeks away, and everyone is encouraged to participate and ensure the candidates come to Columbus on September 28.  

Watch the wonderful video invitations from the disability community on the NFDI YouTube channel and consider taking the following four simple steps to participate in and spread the word about the NFDI:

  • Register: The forum will be webcast live for free.  Encourage everyone to register today at This will be an excellent teaching and advocacy opportunity for trainees!
  • Facebook: "Friend" us, and share the posts frequently with your audience:  The more voices candidates hear=increased likeliness they will participate! 
  • Twitter: "Follow" us, and RT (re-tweet) messages frequently, always using #nfdi2012: The more voices candidates hear = increased likeliness they will attend! 
  • Invite: Write a letter, compose a tweet, make a video, or take a photo and send it to the candidates. Ask them to come to the Forum.  More voices = an increased likeliness the candidates will attend!  View draft letters and get contact information here.

Contact Kim, Crystal, or George if you have any questions. 

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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