AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 17, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  June 17, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 24
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week. With two weeks left until the July 4 recess, both chambers are scurrying to make progress on significant pieces of legislation before the break. The House is working on a farm bill reauthorization that includes controversial changes to both dairy policy and "food stamps" while the Senate continues to work on immigration reform. A Senate Committee begins hearings on the Workforce Investment Act; a House Committee will markup bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Long-Term Care Commission

The Long-Term Care Commission, created by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA, or "fiscal cliff" deal of December 31, 2012), has scheduled their first meeting for June 27. ATRA repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) as part of a larger deal to temporarily avert the "sequester" and revise other tax and spending policies. ATRA included provisions to create a Long-Term Care Commission (see January 7 In Brief). The Commission is charged with developing a plan to establish, implement, and finance a comprehensive national system of long-term services and supports. The Commission has elected Bruce Chernoff, President and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, as Chair, and Mark Warshawsky, director of a retirement research at the consulting firm Towers Watson, as Vice Chair. AUCD continues to monitor activities of the commission, particularly any opportunities for public comment or meetings open to the public.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

The House Education and Workforce Committee will mark up its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as "No Child Left Behind", on Wednesday June 19. Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee marked up a version introduced by Senator Harkin (D-IA), called the Strengthening America's Schools Act (see June 10 In Brief). The Student Success Act (H.R 5), introduced by House Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), would eliminate more than 70 education programs and consolidate others;  eliminate federal accountability standards for students with disabilities; and eliminate requirements for "highly qualified teachers".  During the markup in the House Committee, Congressman George Miller (D-CA), will introduce a Democratic alternative to the Kline bill.  Rep. Miller's bill will be more aligned with the Senate bill, except that it will include the entire text of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a bill to reduce the use of restraints and seclusion in schools.  Unfortunately, Rep. Miller is unlikely to have the votes in the House Committee to pass his substitute bill.  AUCD sent a letter of support to Rep. Miller for introducing a substitute bill. For more information on H.R. 5, see the House committee website.

Workforce Investment Act

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on June 20 titled "Developing a Skilled Workforce for a Competitive Economy: Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act." More details regarding those testifying and statements can be found on the committee's website.

Social Security

On Wednesday, June 19, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled, "Encouraging Work Through the Social Security Disability Insurance Program."  Lisa Ekman, of Health and Disability Advocates, has been invited to testify on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Social Security Task Force.  More information is available on the House Committee website.

Immigration Reform

The Senate will continue its consideration of S. 744, the bipartisan Boarder Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act that began last week.  Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hopes to complete action by the July Fourth recess.  However, its success is not guaranteed.  Some of the most contentious amendments are related to guaranteeing a "secure" Southwest border before allowing the pathways to citizenship for those in the U.S. to be effective.  Others are related to access to health care and other benefits. Leadership in the House has not outline an overall framework for immigration reform where some members have called for a piecemeal approach. Key issues for people with disabilities include how long individuals would be required to wait before applying for permanent resident status and citizenship and whether they will have access to health care and income security benefits.  During this provisional status, current proposals would deny individuals access to federal means-tested benefits, such as Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, AUCD signed on to a coalition letter drafted by the ACLU to maintain the right to access legal counsel in removal proceedings involving individuals who are unable to represent themselves adequately, such as unaccompanied children and those with intellectual disabilities.  For more information, see an issue brief developed by the National Council on Aging and the National Hispanic Councils on Aging.

Farm Bill/New Research

The House of Representatives will begin debate this week on its version of a five-year farm bill (Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act).  AUCD is concerned about the provision that cuts food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) by $21 billion over ten years.  The Senate passed its version (S. 954) on June 10.  The Senate bill cuts SNAP by $4.1 billion over ten years. New research out this week suggests that SNAP is the most effective program pushing against the steep rise in extreme poverty. The number of households with children living on $2 or less per person per day more than doubled between 1996 and 2011, to 1.6 million, according to research conducted by University of Michigan's H. Luke Shaefer and Harvard University's Kathryn Edin. SNAP, however, has kept more households with children out of extreme poverty than any other government program.  AUCD, and other low income advocates, oppose any bill that includes large cuts to the SNAP program. SNAP serves vulnerable populations, encourages work, is efficient and effective, and is working as it was designed to - all good reasons to protect this critical program from damaging cuts.

CRPD - Disability Treaty

AUCD staff continue to join other advocates in meetings with key Senate offices to discuss the disability treaty (the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and the need for its ratification. To learn more about how you can support the treaty, see the Materials for Advocates page on

For more policy news, follow Kim and Rachel on Twitter at @kmusheno and @racheljpat

 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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