AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 4, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  March 4, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 9
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are in session this week but stayed home Monday - along with federal offices and the AUCD office - due to inclement weather in the Washington area. The House is scheduled to vote this week on a bill to repeal the individual responsibility portion of the Affordable Care Act (known as the individual mandate).

Budget & Appropriations

President Obama's budget for the 2015 fiscal year was released today. The budget adheres to the spending levels set by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, but shows the President's spending priorities under those levels. Rather than propose a budget that could be built into a "grand bargain" with Congress, the President has instead presented a budget that is a more clear articulation of his priorities for the nation. The President proposes level funding for Developmental Disabilities Network programs, including $37 million for University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The "Autism and Other Developmental Disorders" budget line - which funds Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program under the Health Resources and Services Administration - is also level funded at $47 million. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development receives a $4 million proposed increase, from $2.365 billion in FY14 to $2.369 billion in FY15.

While the President is required by law to release a budget each year, this particular budget is expected to have little legislative impact. The House and Senate already agreed to top-line spending levels in last year's Bipartisan Budget Act and Patty Murray (D-WA), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has announced that she will let that agreement stand instead of creating a new Senate budget resolution this year. Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan (R-WI) has announced that he will write a House budget resolution this year, which is expected to represent conservative budget principles for the coming year. AUCD staff are reviewing the entire budget proposal and will have a complete analysis of programs important to the AUCD network and people with disabilities posted soon. 

Yesterday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a report on federal poverty programs called The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later. This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's War on Poverty. The report provides an overview of federal anti-poverty programs and tax expenditures and is largely critical of anti-poverty efforts. For analysis, see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This report is an expected precursor to the budget resolution that Chairman Ryan has announced his plans to create.  

Combating Autism Act

AUCD and other CCD colleagues are beginning to meet with key Hill staff regarding the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act.  While a number of federal ASD efforts were in existence prior to the Combating Autism Act, the law has dramatically increased the number, scope, pace, and coordination of ASD research, surveillance, public education, and professional training efforts.  If the law is not authorized by September 30, 2014 many of these expanded activities authorized under the law will expire. CCD will share the new congressionally mandated report that describes the work being done through activities supported by federal agencies and highlights the progress that has been made under the CAA. 

Affordable Care Act

Days Remaining in Open Enrollment: 27

Only 27 days remain for people who need health insurance to enroll through the Marketplaces for coverage in 2014. Despite ongoing media attention to the ACA, a significant portion of people without health insurance still do not know about their ACA options. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, half of uninsured adults polled in February 2014 say they don't have enough information to understand how the law will impact them, two-thirds say they know only a little or nothing at all about the Marketplaces, and three-quarters are unaware of the March 31 deadline for open enrollment. Throughout this month, AUCD will be disseminating information about open enrollment resources and events across the country. For more information about finding coverage or helping those in your community gain coverage, visit Get Covered America and Enroll America.

Keeping All Students Safe Act

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) officially introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the Senate on February 24 as S. 2036.  Senator Harkin held an event at the capitol on February 12 to release a new report on the problem of restraint & seclusion in schools and to announce his plans to introduce the bill (see February 18 In Brief). The bill will establish minimum standards protecting all children from dangerous restraint and seclusion in school, banning seclusion and limiting physical restraint to emergencies threatening serious physical harm. It will require prompt parental notification on the day the event occurs and increase opportunities for parents to seek judicial remedies to end the use of these practices on their children. A similar bill, H.R. 1893, was introduced in the House by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) in May of 2013. AUCD has advocated for this legislation since it was first introduced in the 112th Congress. More information is available on AUCD's Restraint & Seclusion policy page.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released the FY13/14 funding opportunity for Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program. Approximately $100 million is available in FY 2013 and $20 million in FY 2014. HUD expects to provide between 12 and 18 awards between $2 million and $12 million. The section 811 program allows persons with disabilities to live as independently as possible in the community by subsidizing rental housing opportunities which provide access to appropriate supportive services.

Higher Education

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on February 27 on Promoting College Access and Success for Students with Disabilities. Witnesses included current college students with disabilities and college administrators from Virginia Commonwealth University and Wright State University. Witness testimony and a video of the hearing are available on the committee website.

Tax Policy

On Wednesday, February 26 Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee unveiled a major plan for reforming the US tax code. The proposal does not include the ABLE Act - a bill supported by the disability community that would create tax-preferred savings accounts for people with disabilities - even though ABLE had been included in previous discussions. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the proposal is roughly neutral in both revenue and distribution - meaning that it collects about the same amount of revenue and maintains about the same distribution of tax burden between high- and low-income Americans. Overall, the plan would lower marginal tax rates and eliminate many deductions, credits, and "loopholes". Reactions to the plan have been mixed as Chairman Camp included provisions to please and displease both sides of the aisle. Chairman Camp had been working with his counterpart in the Senate, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus (D-MT), until Baucus was appointed ambassador to China. The need for tax reform is widely supported by tax experts, but Baucus' departure makes the future of reform uncertain. Congress has not passed a major reform of the tax code since 1986. For more analysis, see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Tax Policy Center.

Disability Policy Leadership Fellow

Applications are now open for the 2014-2015 Fellowship in Disability Policy Leadership. The purpose of the fellowship is to provide significant experiences in national level activities related to policy and legislative development, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and AUCD administration. Current UCEDD, LEND, and IDDRC staff and trainees are eligible to apply. For more information, see the application announcement.

Disability Policy Seminar

Early registration for the Disability Policy Seminar ends this Friday, March 7. Register by Friday for lower registration rates and to reserve your room in the hotel. New speakers are being confirmed every day and now include disability champion and former Congressman Tony Coelho. Register today!

7 Reasons You Are Absolutely Required to Educate Policymakers

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

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