AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 3, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  September 3, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 35
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Congressional Schedule

Congress remains in recess, returning the week of September 9. With so much unfinished business and fights looming over the debt ceiling, annual appropriations under sequestration, not to mention decisions about Syria, it's bound to be a long and contentious fall.  Read more about the crowded agenda in Politico.

Budget and Appropriations

Congress left for recess without a clear path forward on how to pass the annual appropriations bills.  Some Republicans in the House and Senate have been threatening not to let any funding bills pass unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded. Many are also once again using the need to raise the debt ceiling as leverage to achieve deeper spending cuts (the debt ceiling must be raised mid- to late October).  If no annual appropriations bills or continuing resolution are passed by the beginning of the fiscal year (October 1), the result would be a government shutdown similar to the funding impasse of 1995-96 (see 2001 CRS report on the causes and results of the government shutdown).  The most likely scenario will be the passage of a continuing resolution (CR), a measure that funds government agencies when no regular funding bills are enacted.  In that scenario, the big question will be at what funding level - the sequestration level or lower, as some House Republicans are insisting.  The CR could also be short term (one to two months), leaving the budget battle to go until the end of the year or into the New Year. AUCD continues to advocate for Congress to take action now and to replace the sequestration with a balanced and realistic approach to deficit reduction.  AUCD also continues to urge people with disabilities and families to educate their Members of Congress about the consequences of deep cuts to disability programs in the budget debate.


Just before the Labor Day holiday, the Department of Labor announced the publication of two rules intended to increase hiring of people with disabilities and veterans by federal contractors. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain employees with disabilities. The final rules set a nationwide goal for contractors to have 7% of their workforce be people with disabilities. The rule also includes invitations for employees to self-identify as having disabilities as well as other data collection, equal opportunity, and records requirements. The Labor Department also finalized rules related to the Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act, with similar goals of increasing the number of veterans in the federal contactor workforce.

To hear the newly confirmed Secretary of Labor Tom Perez's Labor Day message, see the DOL website:


The Department of Education has announced a proposed regulatory change that would to end use of alternative assessments based on modified achievement standards (AA-MAS), commonly known as the "2% rule". The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is opposed to the use of AA-MAS to measure academic achievement by students with disabilities because the standards do not require grade-level achievement but allow the school to consider students "proficient". The regulations are open for public comment until October 7.  

Long-Term Care Commission

President Obama announced last week that he will appoint Lynnae Ruttledge, former Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and Co-Vice Chair of the National Council on Disability, to the Long-Term Care Commission. Ms. Ruttledge is a long-time disability advocate and current disability policy advisor to Daughters of Charity, Technology Research Into Disability. The Long-Term Care Commission was created in the "fiscal cliff" deal that repealed the CLASS Act (see January 7 In Brief). Although the Commission has almost finished its work, the administration had one more post to fill after Dr. Julian Harris, Medicaid Director in Massachusetts, stepped down from the commission to take a position in the federal government. 

Disability Treaty

Momentum continues to build in support of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Following a successful twitter campaign on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, advocates are rallying around a Handicap International petition to the US Senate to ratify the treaty.  More resources are available on AUCD's CRPD page, the Facebook page dedicated to ratifying the treaty, and the new page Students4CRPD promoting student support of the treaty.

ACA Implementation

With less than a month to go before open enrollment starts in the new Health Insurance Marketplaces, AUCD continues to update the Health Reform Hub with new information, tools, and resources that reflect the current focus on implementation, outreach, and enrollment. The hub now links directly to and includes a calculator developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation to help consumers estimate their eligibility for subsidies toward the cost of health insurance on the new Marketplaces. The list of other websites at the bottom of the hub has also been updated.

Social Security

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote today about a recent Social Security Actuarial Note that shows that while applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) rise during periods of recession, the total number of claims allowed does not rise at nearly the same rate. According to the actuaries, applications for SSDI traditionally rise during periods of high unemployment. This results in an overall lower proportion of successful applications, a trend which has been repeated in the most recent economic downturn.  

March on Washington Anniversary

Last Wednesday, August 28th, President Barack Obama delivered an address at the Lincoln Memorial, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963. The President included people with disabilities as one of the populations still fighting for equal treatment and social justice in the United States. Fred Maahs, a person with a disability and Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), also spoke, calling on Americans to support ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). AUCD staff and other national advocates used this opportunity to make the connection between civil rights and disability rights by orchestrating a live-tweet campaign throughout the day, using various hashtags to show support for the Treaty. To learn more about the event, see a video of President Obama's speech, read the text of Fred Maahs' speech, and check out #CRPD and #DisabilityTreaty on twitter. 

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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