AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 29, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  July 29, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 30
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Congressional Schedule

This is the last week in session before the month-long August recess. The Senate is expected to work on confirming another set of Presidential nominees and pass the first set of appropriations bills. The House is also working on appropriations legislation.


The House postponed a scheduled a subcommittee markup of the FY 2014 Labor HHS appropriations bill due to potential scheduling conflicts with the defense and foreign ops appropriations bills on the floor and in full committee. While the Labor HHS subcommittee markup could be pushed to this week, rumors abound that the bill does not have enough support to pass in subcommittee because of the expected deep cuts to many programs.  The bill total of $122 billion is over $40 billion (over 25%) lower than the Senate bill that was reported out of Committee this month. The post sequestration current level is around $150 billion in FY 2013. Last year the bill made it through subcommittee but was then pulled and never made it to a full committee markup. 

On July 11th, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 14 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill on a party-line vote 16-14. While Chairwoman Mikulski has stated her intention to take the bill to the Senate floor, that remains tentative. With an allocation of $165.6 billion in discretionary funding, the highest non-defense discretionary allocation, the Senate bill allocates $44.6 billion more than the House bill ($121.8 billion). 

For a table showing the Senate bill compared to current funding levels and the President's request, see the appropriations summary included in the July 15 In Brief.

While many observers expect yet another continuing resolution in FY 2014 for this bill, Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee continued to emphasize the importance of taking the steps to advance the appropriations process and restore a semblance of normalcy to Congressional funding process. 

Workforce Investment Act

Last week, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bipartisan bill (S. 1356) to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.  The bill includes a number of changes to Title V, the Rehabilitation Act, intended to strengthen services for youth with disabilities who are transitioning from school to work or postsecondary education.  The bill also makes structural changes to the services system.  For example, the bill changes the name of the Rehabilitation Services Administration to the Disability Employment Services and Supports Administration, and moves the Administration from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor.   The bill is scheduled for markup in the full Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Wednesday. AUCD sent a letter of support to Senators Harkin and Alexander for their bipartisan work on the Rehabilitation Act.  The committee's section by section summary of changes to Title V is posted on AUCD's website.

Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary

Last week marked the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. AUCD Executive Director George Jesien and other disability leaders were invited to the White House to meet with President Obama, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and new Office of Engagement disability liaison, Claudia Gordon (See picture on Jarrett's blog) to discuss the Administration's priorities related to disability policy. AUCD staff also participated in several celebrations and events, including the AAPD Justice for All Awards and the White House Champions of Change awards. Other rallies, briefings, and meetings summarized below.

NCD ADA Anniversary and Policy Briefing

On July 23rd, the National Council on Disability held Capitol Hill briefing to educate congressional staff about the ADA and the ADA Amendments Act. The event featured brief remarks from congressional, civil rights, and business community champions of the ADA Amendments Act, and was followed by the release of NCD's latest report, "A Promising Start: Preliminary Analysis of Court Decisions Under the ADA Amendments Act." The event concluded with a surprise visit by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who gave some brief remarks on the history and present status of disability rights in the U.S., and encouraged those in attendance to continue urging their Senators to support the ratification of the Disability Treaty.

NCIL Disability Treaty March to the Hill, Rally & CRPD Press Conference

On July 25th, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) organized a "March to the Hill" and rally with disability advocates from all over the country. The NCIL events were followed by a CRPD press conference calling on Congress to ratify the Disability Treaty (see AUCD's press release). Leaders who spoke in support of the treaty at the press conference included Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living; Hon. Tony Coelho, former U.S. Congressman and primary sponsor of the ADA; Hon. Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Congresswoman for Illinois; Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Angela Webster, homeschooling parent and disability rights advocate. (see pictures #isupportCRPD #CRPD)

USICD 2013 Annual Meeting

The 2013 Annual Meeting for the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) was held on Thursday, July 25th. USICD shared their 2013 Annual Report, updates on the latest plan of action for the U.S. ratification of the CRPD, the most recent advancements in worldwide disability rights, and celebrated their first graduating class from their Youth in Development (YiD) Internship. USICD President, Marca Bristo, opened this year's meeting with a tribute in remembrance of the outstanding work, accomplishments, and worldwide impact of USICD Board Member and Disability Rights Leader, Michael Winter, who passed away earlier this month on July 11th.

Student Loan Interest Rates

Last week the Senate approved a bill to reduce student loan interest rates and set a plan for rates moving forward. The plan has support in the House, where is expected to pass. Because of sunsets in previous legislation, rates were set to rise this summer to 6.8% for all Stafford loans taken by undergraduate and graduate students and 7.9% for PLUS loans taken by graduate students and parents. The Senate deal would tie interest rates to market interest rates with a cap if the market rates rise too high. Under this plan, rates for next year will be 3.86% for undergraduate Stafford loans, 5.41% for graduate Stafford loans, and 6.41% for PLUS loans. Rates will be locked in for the life of the loan. The rates also apply retroactively to loans issued after the July 1 deadline. For more information, including comparison to other proposals, see this Washington Post chart

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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