AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 24, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  June 24, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 25
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week, the last week before the July 4th recess. Senate leadership have indicated that they will hold a floor vote on a comprehensive immigration reform package this week.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

On Wednesday, June 19, the House Education and the Workforce committee passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5). AUCD opposes H.R. 5 which would remove accountability provisions for students with disabilities.  AUCD supported a substitute bill that includes the entire text of the Keeping All Students Safe Act (see last week's In Brief).

On the Senate side, the Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) committee has also passed their version, the Strengthening America's Schools Act, introduced by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA). During the markup, the committee voting against an amendment by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) that would have eliminated the cap on the percentage of students allowed to take alternate assessments. AUCD released a statement in support of the Sen. Harkin's bill.  AUCD also developed a short summary of the disability-related provisions in the bill.

No dates have been set for consideration by the full Senate or House of Representatives.  In addition, because the bills are so different, it is unclear how the House and Senate would resolve the differences between the two bills.  AUCD is urging Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to reauthorize the ESEA.

Workforce Investment Act Hearing

On Thursday, June 20th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a well-attended hearing called "Developing a Skilled Workforce for a Competitive Economy: Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)," which also includes the Rehabilitation Act. Testimonies were given by David Mitchell (Administrator, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services), Steve Partridge (President and CEO, Charlotte Works), Alan Rosenberg (Vice President, Chief of Staff, and Chief Administrative Officer, Temple University Health Systems), and Beverly Smith (Assistant Commissioner and State Director for Adult Education, Office of Adult Education, Technical College System of Georgia). A video of the hearing and written testimony are available on the HELP Committee website. It was a friendly hearing and the concept of bipartisanship came frequently during the hearing.  In his opening statement, Chairman Tom Harkin spoke passionately about his desire to improve transition services for youth with disabilities exiting high school to ensure that they have the more integrated employment opportunities.


The Senate Appropriations Committee approved (on a party-line vote of 15-14) its allocations to the 12 subcommittees last Thursday. Overall, the Senate allocations provide $91 billion more than the House Committee for discretionary programs. The Senate committee allocated $164.3 billion to the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill, nearly $43 billion more than the $121.8 billion approved by the House Appropriations Committee.

Based on the fiscal 2014 budget resolution adopted by the Senate in March, the Senate allocations assume that Congress will act to repeal and replace the sequester that began March 1.Under the spending caps imposed by the 2011 debt limit law (PL 112-25), base discretionary spending would be limited to $498 billion for defense-related programs and $469 billion for domestic programs in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, resulting in automatic, across-the-board cuts to those programs if either cap is exceeded. Under the Mikulski allocations, defense-related programs would be limited to $552 billion and domestic programs to $506 billion in base discretionary spending.

AUCD supports the Senate allocation that reflects investments in vital research, health, education, and services.  Congress must replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to these important programs.

Olmstead Guidance

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidance on opportunities and obligations under the Olmstead decision to provide integrated housing for people with disabilities. The guidance encourages housing providers funded by HUD to support HUD's commitment to Olmstead implementation by increasing housing opportunities for people with disabilities transitioning from institutions, nursing homes, hospitals, or other restrictive settings.

Affordable Care Act Implementation

With just 98 days left until open enrollment starts for Health Insurance Marketplaces, the Department of Health and Human Services launched today a new and 24-hour call center to educate the public about their options for affordable health coverage. AUCD's State Health Reform Implementation Workgroup will be discussing the new and other outreach and enrollment efforts in their call tomorrow, June 25 at 4pm. For more information or to participate in the call, email Rachel at [email protected].

Farm Bill

In a surprising vote, the House defeated a reauthorization of a five-year farm bill (H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act) on Thursday, June 20. The bill included $21 billion in cuts to food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) and an amendment would have also tied work requirements to SNAP eligibility, requiring that recipients be working or looking for work and rewarding states who revoke eligibility for this reason (for more details, see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities statement). Many Democrats opposed the bill because of the large cuts to food stamps, while some Republicans opposed the bill because the cuts weren't large enough. For more information on the bill, see last week's In Brief. The Senate bill also includes a smaller $4 billion cuts to SNAP (over 10 years).

Family Support

AUCD staff participated in the Community of Practice for Supporting Families of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities "Kick-Off" Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri last week. The Community of Practice is a Project of National Significance funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD).  Five states have been chosen to form the community of practice: Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Washington. The goal of the community of practiced is to enhance state policies, practices, and sustainable systems that result in improved supports to families and to enhance capacity of states to replicate and sustain these practice, policies, and systems.

Student Loan Interest Rates

A bipartisan proposal has emerged to address the upcoming deadline on student loan interest rates. If Congress does nothing, interest rates on Stafford and PLUS loans (federal loans for undergraduate and graduate students and their parents) will double on July 1 for new loans taken after that date (rates on existing loans will remain the same). Many proposals have been floated, and most agree that rates should be pegged so some market value rather than set by Congress. Controversy has arisen on which market indicator to use, whether rates should be fixed or variable, and whether there should be a cap on rates if market rates get too high. For more background, see May 19 In Brief

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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