AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 4, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 04, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 5
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Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate are in session this week, with the House Democratic Retreat scheduled for Thursday and Friday of this week. The House is considering three health related bills (see Health below) and the Senate will debate the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The House Rules Committee is also considering a bill that would require the president to estimate when the federal budget will be balanced, continuing the rhetorical battle between Democrats and Republicans over the budget. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be among several panelists to testify at a Senate HELP Committee hearing Thursday titled, "No Child Left Behind: Early Lessons from State Flexibility Waivers."



On Thursday, the Senate passed the debt ceiling suspension bill (H.R. 325) on a 64-34 vote. The bill, passed by the House last week, suspends the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling (and threat of default) until May 19. It also ties salaries of members of Congress to whether their respective chambers pass a budget resolution (BR). If either chamber fails to pass a BR by April 15, the salary for members in that chamber will be held in an escrow account until they pass a budget or until the last day of the 113th Congress.  Several offered amendments failed, including two from Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) that would 1) offset any increase in the debt ceiling with spending cuts; and 2) require the continued funding of government programs at current levels if spending measures are not enacted for a given fiscal year. Twelve Republicans voted for the bill; only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, opposed it. The president is expected to sign it.


Sequestration Update

The next self-imposed fiscal policy deadline is March 1, the date set for the automatic across-the-board discretionary program cuts (sequester) of approximately five percent if the Congress takes no action to delay or pass a budget plan that avoids the trigger. So far there is no indication that Congress has a plan that will garner the bipartisan support needed to pass both Houses of Congress.  If the sequester is triggered, AUCD network programs should expect an at least five percent cut for FY 2013.  It is still unclear how the federal agencies will apply the cuts.  While Federal agencies have not made any official announcements about the how the sequester for work, AUCD believes that for UCEDDs, the automatic cut would impact the amount of funds available to make awards that start July 1; they would not experience a rescission on this year's award (July 1, 2012, - June 30, 2013).  AUCD staff continue to investigate how the sequester would impact LEND and IDDRC funding. AUCD continues to press Budget Committee members and the Administration to find a long term balanced approach to deficit reduction that would not harm those who depend on government programs to assist them in daily living activities and to avoid poverty. AUCD recently signed on to a broad coalition letter urging the Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include any further cuts to NDD programs.

In related news, a new report by the Center for American Progress analyzes the cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending since the start of fiscal year 2010.  According to the report, the Congressional Budget Office projection of nondefense discretionary spending has fallen by more than $730 billion, a cut of more than 10 percent. Those cuts are mainly the result of legislation passed in the intervening months that dramatically curtailed federal spending in this category. Under the caps imposed by the Budget Control Act, federal discretionary spending will fall below 0.3 percent of GDP by 2017, the lowest in recorded history. If the additional automatic cuts known as the "sequester" remain in place the overall reduction will swell to well over $1 trillion, a 15 percent cut in total.  The report also describes what programs are under the NDD spending category.


White House senior economic adviser Gene Sperling last week publicly stated that the President's budget will not suggest cuts to Medicaid.  At a health conference held in D.C. Sperling said the White House is no longer willing to make even the Medicaid cuts it had previously supported, but acknowledged that puts more pressure on Medicare.  The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) immediately responded with a thank you letter, to which AUCD signed.  The final letter will be posted on CCD's website.

There are two bipartisan bills being considered in the House today under "Suspension of the Rules" that may be of interest to the AUCD network. One is H.R. 297, the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education (GME) Support Reauthorization Act of 2013, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), along with Reps. Pallone (D-NJ), Burgess (R-TX), and Capps (D-CA).  The GME legislation, which would reauthorize grants for graduate medical education programs in children's hospitals, was introduced in the last Congress, but not taken up by the Senate. It's meant to help address what its supporters say is a shortage of pediatric doctors. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget proposed the elimination of this program.

The second is H.R. 225, the National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2013 (NPRNA), sponsored by Reps. Capps (D-CA), McMorris-Rogers (R-WA), Degette (D-CO), Harper (R-MS), Matsui (D-CA), and King (R-NY). The NPRNA which passed the House in 2012 but failed to advance to the Senate, would authorize the National Institutes of Health (NIH), led by the NICHD, to facilitate the creation of pediatric research consortia focused on pediatric diseases. The bipartisan bill was designed to help increase research and accelerate the development of clinical trials to treat rare pediatric diseases. For more information on H.R. 225, see last week's In Brief and AUCD's Action Center under "Current Legislation".


ADA Regulations

Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the new ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for buildings and facilities (see May 25 In Brief).  The regulation issued in May of 2012 extended the deadline for compliance  to January 31, 2013.  Under the regulation, all existing and new pools must have a fixed or permanent lift, to the extent readily achievable, in order to comply with the ADA.  A determination of what is "readily achievable" requires a legal opinion based on the facts of each case. AUCD will work with the task force to plan a congressional briefing on the ADA to educate new Members of Congress about the law.


Final Report on Second Session of the 112th Congress

AUCD's final report on the 112th Congress is now available on The report provides a summary and final report on legislative issues that impact people with disabilities from the second session of the 112th Congress, including budget and appropriations, health care reform, education, employment, asset development, autism, civil rights, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the National Forum on Disability Issues.


Legislative Staff News

Kristina Majewski will be ending her policy fellowship at AUCD this month and moving on to a new position at the U.S. Department of Justice.  At DOJ, Kris will be a contract attorney for the Olmstead Enforcement Team in the Disability Rights Section (Office of Civil Rights) where she will help our federal government enforce the ADA provisions that ensure people with disabilities have the right to live, work, and recreate in the community.  AUCD will miss her and wish her all the best! Kristina's last day is February 15.  AUCD will be interviewing several policy fellow applicants over the next two weeks.


 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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