AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 22, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  July 22, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 29
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Congressional Schedule

Both chambers are in session this week, with only two weeks until the August recess. The Senate is still working to pass a student loan relief bill, while the House works on appropriations for the department of defense.

July 26 is the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Several events and celebrations are planned, including a White House "Champions of Change" awards event, AAPD Justice for All awards, a National Council on Disability policy briefing on the hill, and a press conference and rally in support of the Disability Treaty hosted by the US International Council on Disabilities, National Council on Independent Living, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights (see below).


The House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee announced a markup of its annual appropriations bill for this Thursday, July 2. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its L-HHS-ED funding bill on July 1. (See last week's In Brief ).


On Thursday July 18 the House passed the "Student Success Act" (H.R. 5). The bill, introduced by John Kline (R-MN), chair of the Education and the Workforce committee, would eliminate federal standards for achievement, including achievement of students with disabilities, and allow states to develop their own accountability systems. Specifically, the bill would eliminate caps on the percentage of students who can take alternate assessments, a change that AUCD and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities have strongly opposed. AUCD issued a statement expressing deep disappointment upon passage. During the debate, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced an amendment and made a strong statement on the House floor about the need for increased accountability standards for students with disabilities. Education Committee Chairman Kline (R-MN) responded to her statement by agreeing to consider her concerns as the bill moves forward. Unfortunately, no amendment could solve the inherent structural problems of the underlying bill. Friday's Education Week Blog references the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities concerns:  There is no date set yet for the full Senate to consider its committee-passed bill, the Strengthening America's Schools Act (S. 1094). See text of both bills under "current legislation" in AUCD's action center.

Long-Term Care Commission

Last week, the Long-Term Care Commission held their second hearing. The website is and includes video of hearings held so far, dates of future hearings, and a instructions on how to provide comments to the commission. At the hearing, commissioners heard from two panels. The first panel focused on the diversity of demand for LTSS, including presentations on the current data and need among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, people with physical disabilities, people with mental illness, and older people. It featured David Braddock of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities presenting data from the 2013 State of the States in Developmental Disabilities in testimony and PowerPoint presentation. The second panel focused on care coordination and the workforce, including family caregivers and direct support professionals. The commission was created by the American Taxpayer Relief Act that repealed the CLASS program. The next meeting will be on August 1.


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, has released a report on the current state of Olmstead implementation called Separate and Unequal: States Fail to Fulfill the Community Living Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The report is a result of a year-long investigation led by Chairman Harkin requesting information from all 50 states about their progress complying with the decision. The report criticizes states for making inadequate progress in providing home and community-based services (HCBS) so people with disabilities can participate in community life. While there has been a national shift in spending from institutions to HCBS, only 12 states spent more than 50% of their Medicaid long-term services and supports dollars on HCBS.  State responses to the Senator's request are available here.

Disability Treaty

This Thursday, July 25, AUCD will be joining others in a coalition of leaders from the disability community, civil rights organizations, veterans' groups, and business in a rally of hundreds of disability advocates to call on Congress to fight for the 57.8 million Americans with disabilities, 5.5 million American veterans with disabilities and American businesses to ratify the CRPD. The event coincides with the 23rd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26th, landmark legislation to protect people with disabilities in the United States from discrimination and to guarantee the protection of their rights and dignity. The anniversary is particularly noteworthy this year, as the Senate is preparing to renew discussions of ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), "The Disability Treaty". The international disability treaty would serve as a framework for creating legislation and policies around the world, modeled after the ADA. Ratification is supported by hundreds of disability organizations, veterans groups, faith organizations and major business groups including the Chamber of Commerce. In spite of strong bipartisan support, the treaty fell just five votes short of ratification in the Senate last December. Now, the Senate is getting an opportunity that doesn't come along often in Washington-a second chance to do the right thing and ratify the CRPD.  All supporters are welcome to join the Rally! For more information, contact Kim Musheno.

Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry wrote an editorial published in USA Today in support of ratification.  AUCD urges network members to submit similar editorials like this one in local papers.  See AUCD's action center for talking points and a sample letter to write to all Senators urging support for the Disability Treaty.  Like the ADA, only strong grassroots support will make this happen.

Tom Perez Confirmed as Secretary of Labor

The Senate voted last week to confirm Tom Perez, former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, as the new Secretary of Labor. Mr. Perez had been a champion for disability rights during his time heading the Civil Rights division, particularly on issues of Olmstead implementation, ADA compliance, and integrated employment. Prior to joining the DOJ, Mr. Perez served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. AUCD and the disability community applaud his confirmation as Secretary of Labor.

White House Appoints Public Engagement Adviser for the Disability Community

President Obama has appointed Claudia Gordon, Esq., as the new Public Engagement Adviser for the Disability Community in the Office of Public Engagement. In her role, Ms. Gordon will serve as primary liaison between the White House and the disability community. She is a former board member of the American Association of People with Disabilities and former Vice-President of the National Black Deaf Advocates Association. Ms. Gordon was the first deaf African American woman to become an attorney and the first deaf student to graduate from the American University Washington College of Law. He most recently served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Federal Contracts and Compliance Programs at the Department of Labor. 

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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