AUCD Legislative News In Brief

August 5, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  August 5, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 31
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Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate are in recess for the month of August. They will return September 9. August recess is a great time to meet with your members of Congress while they are at home attending events and holding town hall meetings. To find the issues that AUCD is tracking and the talking points that relate to them, see AUCD's Action Center.


The regular appropriations process broke down in the House last week with the abandonment of the funding bills for Transportation-Housing and Interior-Environment. Instead, the House focused on bills changing the federal regulatory process and barring the Internal Revenue Service from performing their role in implementing the Affordable Care Act. The appropriations process has also stalled in the Senate, which has also not yet passed any appropriations bills despite Appropriations Chairwoman Mikulski's commitment to "regular order".

With a limited number of legislative days (9 in the House and 16 in the Senate) until the end of the fiscal year, Congress and the White House are likely to turn toward passing continuing resolution to keep the government operating past September 30. House Speaker John Boehner has said that he will seek a short-term continuing resolution. Negotiations are likely to focus on the fate of sequester cuts, raising the debt ceiling, and tax reform. However, little movement is likely until Congress returns from recess September 9. 


Workforce Investment Act

On Wednesday the House, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (S. 1356) by a vote of 18-3. This bill includes the Title V Rehabilitation Act, which is aimed at making sure that people with disabilities have increased preparation and opportunities for competitive, integrated employment. AUCD provided comments prior to the committee mark-up of this bill related to transition, cultural competence, and assistive technology. AUCD sent a letter of support to Senators Harkin (D-IA) and Alexander (R-TN) for their bipartisan work on amendments to the Rehabilitation Act. For a summary of the provisions, see last week's In Brief.  The committee's section-by-section summary of changes to Title V is also posted on AUCD's website. An archive of the markup is available on the committee's website.

The bill passed by the committee varies dramatically from the version passed by the House - the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803) - which consolidates and eliminates many federal job training programs including supported employment and other programs for jobseekers with disabilities. The House passed the SKILLS Act in March of this year on a party-line vote (see March 18 In Brief for more details).

NGA Employment Initiative

In related employment news, outgoing chair of the National Governor's Association Governor Jack Markell launched the website and released the report on his year-long initiative "A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities." Each chair of the NGA has an opportunity to focus on an initiative important to governors and state governments and Governor Markell chose employment of people with disabilities. The initiative aims to provide governors and state policymakers with better information and resources to address employment, including an emphasis on employment for people with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Farm Bill

While the Senate has already named members of the conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate Farm packages, it remains unclear if the House will attempt to pass a SNAP-only bill. Last month, the House passed a bill that only included agriculture subsidies and not the food-stamp programs that usually accompany the farm program authorization (see July 11 In Brief for more information) because the proposed food stamp cuts were not enough to satisfy some members of the House.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has raised the possibility of writing a bill includes even larger cuts to food programs to bring up when the House returns from recess.

ADA Anniversary Celebrations

Celebrations of the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act continued last week with two congressional briefings on the ADA and community integration organized by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. Each briefing held two panels. The first panel was on the "History, Purpose, and Vision of the ADA."  The second was on "The ADA's Integration Mandate and the Olmstead Decision." Each panel included speakers who have been instrumental in the disability rights movement in their work to advance the principles of the ADA and community integration. Some of the key principles discussed at the briefing were on issues relating to employment, housing, informed choices, opportunities to access integrated settings, and public funding for services that support the implementation of these principles.

Safety Net Programs

A House Budget Committee called a hearing on "The War on Poverty: A Progress Report" to address the effectiveness of social safety net programs. Witnesses included Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the "Nuns on the Bus" and Executive Director of NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. Sister Campbell's testimony told stories of how safety-net programs can reduce hardship and expand opportunity, including real stories from individuals relying on SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit and those who would benefit from the expansion of Medicaid and availability of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Exchanges. Other witnesses included the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, President of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, and a Professor from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.  

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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