AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 3, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 3, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 5
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Budget & Appropriations

With the appropriations bills for the current fiscal year signed into law, Congress can turn its attention to the debt limit. The October 2013 fiscal agreement (see October 21 In Brief) suspended the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014. The debt limit will be reinstated on February 8. Because the limit was suspended and not raised, the Treasury Department will immediately implement "extraordinary measures" to avoid a default on US debt. The Bipartisan Policy Center has estimated that these measures will only last until late February or March. This is a shorter time frame than in past debt limit crises because it coincides with tax filing time - the Treasury will be issuing tax refunds to millions of Americans. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew spoke this morning at the Bipartisan Policy Center and urged Congress to extend the nation's borrowing authority. Raising the debt limit is necessary to continue to fund the appropriations that Congress approved earlier this month.  

State of the Union Address

On Tuesday January 28, President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. The President focused on equality and opportunity for all Americans, particularly in employment, education, and health. He reaffirmed his commitment to early childhood education, announced that the Vice President will conduct a comprehensive review of federal job training programs, announced a new retirement savings mechanism aimed at low-income workers, and called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage. He also expressed a willingness to use his executive authority to advance his agenda in response to the partisan gridlock in Congress. For more information, watch a video of the speech, read the transcript, read AUCD's statement on the speech, and find more resources at  

Nutrition Assistance

The conference committee charged with reconciling differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill released their compromise last week. The compromise includes an $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as food stamps. This is higher than the $4 billion cut included in the Senate bill but lower than the $40 billion cut included in the House bill. As a result of this cut, an estimated 850,000 households could have their assistance cut by about $90 a month. The bill also consolidates or eliminates many agriculture subsidy programs but expands crop insurance. The House passed the compromise bill 251 to 166 on Wednesday and the Senate is expected to vote on it this week. AUCD has signed on to several coalition letters during this Congress opposing cuts to SNAP.

Newborn Screening

The Senate passed the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act (S.1417) on Wednesday, January 29. The bill reauthorizes federal activities that assist states in improving and expanding their newborn screening programs including the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grants to states for screening programs, HRSA Clearinghouse on Newborn Screening Information and the National Newborn Screening and Genetic Resource Center, and more programs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). A bill of the same name (H.R.1281) was introduced in the House in March but the House has not taken action.

Home and Community-Based Services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has continued to provide resources and information on the new final rule regarding home and community based services (see January 13 In Brief). CMS held webinars January 23 and 30 and has posted the slides online. AUCD will continue to report on new resources and information. For more information, including the fact sheets released with the rule, visit or see AUCD's resource page.

Elections/Voting Report

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration has released its report The American Voting Experience. The commission was created by executive order in March of 2013 to identify best practices in election administrations and to make recommendations improve the voting experience. The report calls for modernization of registration, improved access to the polls, more efficient management of polling places, and reforms to the standards and certification of voting technology. The report also includes specific recommendations on improving access and experience for voters with disabilities. More information about the commission is available at

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Leadership

During the CCD Annual Meeting held the week of January 13, the membership held elections and organized task forces around policy issues.  AUCD's director of public policy, Kim Musheno, was elected to stay on as Vice Chair of the consortium. She also volunteered to continue co-chairing both the Fiscal Policy and the Autism, Developmental Disabilities and Family Supports Task Forces.  AUCD's policy analyst, Rachel Patterson, was elected to co-chair the Long Term Services and Supports Task Force.  She will also remain a member of the Health Task Force.  Musheno also participates on the Education, Employment and International Task Forces and monitors all other task force activities as Vice Chair.  For task force annual reports and other CCD activities, see the consortium's website.  AUCD members are also encouraged to support CCD's Facebook page.


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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms

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