AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 14, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 14, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 41
Subscribe to AUCD InBrief  |  AUCD InBrief Archive  | RSS  |  AUCD InBrief Archive


Congressional Schedule

Congress was scheduled for recess this week for the Columbus Day holiday. Instead, the Senate remained in session over the weekend to continue negotiations to solve the budget impasse. The House returns today after leaving for the weekend.


Shutdown: Day 14

The second week of the lapse in appropriations (government shutdown) continued much like the first (see last week's In Brief), with the House offering piecemeal financing for parts of the government, including Head Start, the Federal Aviation Administration, and border security, and the Senate holding firm in their position for a clean continuing resolution (save for death benefits for military families, which both the House and Senate have approved). The New York Times has continued to update their graphic of the volley of financing proposals.

Last week brought a variety of proposals and meetings on government funding and the debt limit, including proposals by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and a meeting between President Obama and House leaders, but none gained traction. Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took on primary negotiations on a continuing resolution (CR) necessary to re-open the federal government. Negotiations will continue today, focusing on the length of the CR, total level of funding, and whether to continue the sequester cuts implemented by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Days until Default on Obligations: 3

This impasse continues as we approach the limit of the nation's borrowing authority and exhaustion of extraordinary measures the Treasury Department can take to continue to pay the nation's bills. The US actually reached the debt limit on May 19, but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has been shuffling money in government accounts in order to keep funding our obligations. Secretary Lew stated in a letter to Speaker Boehner that the department would be out of maneuvering room on October 17. Given the large amounts of cash flowing in and out of the Treasury on a daily basis and a moderate amount of uncertainty of future tax receipts and benefit claims, a specific end date is hard to precisely determine, which is why some have argued that the US has more time. For more on the nation's fiscal obligations this fall and a drop-dead date on US obligations, see the Bipartisan Policy Center's detailed projections.

Even the threat of a US default could have serious repercussions for the world economy. While some members of Congress have speculated that the US could "prioritize" payments to avoid a default on the debt, Secretary Lew has reiterated that such a move would be impossible to implement in Treasury payment systems and economists continue to warn of domestic and worldwide consequences. The resulting economic shock could also sharply increase the interest rate on Treasury bonds, increasing the amount the US must pay to service its debt both now and in the long run.

World financial leaders, who just wrapped up a World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington, DC this weekend, urged the US to resolve this crisis by raising the debt limit and reopening the government. Even through the financial crisis and world economic downturn, US Treasury bonds have been considered one of the safest investments worldwide, evidenced by the low interest rates. Default on US debt threatens not only the full faith and credit of the US government but the stability of world financial markets. For even more debt ceiling information, see The Washington Post's "Absolutely everything you need to know about the debt ceiling."

Effect on Disability Programs

As we reported last week, the effect on people with disabilities depends on the length of the shutdown. As we enter our third week more programs that serve and support people with disabilities will be affected. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs last week that the appropriations lapse has already delayed processing of claims and could halt disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation services to veterans for November. State Medicaid programs with high federal matching rates, such as DC, are increasingly unable to make payments to managed care companies and individual providers, putting Medicaid programs at risk of stopping services due to lack of funds. AUCD will continue to report on the effects of the shutdown and impact on people with disabilities.

Affordable Care Act

Days remaining in open enrollment: 168

The online portal to shop in Federally Facilitated Exchanges at continues to face technical challenges, but has been improving steadily. They have removed the requirement to create an account before browsing options, easing a bottleneck at the account-creation step.

Proposals to repeal, delay, or defund the ACA have mostly disappeared from recent funding and debt ceiling negotiations, except for a few small provisions related to the health care available to members of Congress and their staff and a repeal of the medical device tax. Kaiser Health News and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have good resources on the history and implications of the medical device tax. 

CRPD/Disability Treaty

Last week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Robert Menendez (D-NJ) met with selected leaders of the disability community, including AUCD. Chairman Menendez stated that he is committed to moving the Treaty in this Congress.  Watch for an action alert on this issue coming soon.

Farm Bill

The House has moved forward on agriculture and food assistance bills by naming members to a conference committee to work out differences between House and Senate-passed bills. The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (Farm bill) authorizes both farm subsidize and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or "food stamps"). The House-passed bill includes $40 billion in cuts to SNAP over 10 years, compared to $4 billion in cuts in the Senate-passed bill. The difference in SNAP cuts is the biggest difference between the two bills and of significant concern to AUCD, the Coalition on Human Needs, and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Social Security

Last Sunday, the news program 60 Minutes ran a story on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.  It featured Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and his investigation into potential fraud by a group of doctors, lawyers, and judges in the Huntington, West Virginia area and aired the night before a hearing on the same matter in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee. AUCD signed on to a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force prior to the broadcast urging the program to present a balanced story on the program. AUCD also issued its own response after the broadcast highlighting the lack of appropriations for Social Security Administration program integrity and other vocational rehabilitation for people with disabilities.

AUCD Annual Meeting - Federal Partners Discussion

As always, AUCD has invited representatives of some of our federal partner agencies to engage with the network in a discussion on priorities and activities within their agency's jurisdiction that impact people with disabilities.  This event takes place on November 19. Distinguished invited guests this year include Cindy Mann, Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Michael Lu, Associate Administrator, Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Claudia Gordon, Public Engagement Advisor, The White House; Sharon Lewis, Commissioner Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Melody Musgrove, Director, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; and Sue Swenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.  For information about all the exciting events, please visit AUCD's Events site.

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:

AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910