Capitol Insider 

Major Recent Events

Tax Policy – ABLE Act passes House of Representatives twice

On December 3, the House passed H.R. 647, the Achieving a Better Life Experience
Act (ABLE Act), by a vote of 404 to 17. The ABLE Act would change the tax code to
allow for tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities for certain
expenses, like education, housing, and transportation. Similar to existing &# 8220;
Section 529” education savings accounts, ABLE accounts would let families save for
disability-related expenses on behalf of qualified beneficiaries with disabilities that will
supplement, but not replace, benefits provided through the Medicaid program, the
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, the beneficiary’s employment, and
other sources. In an interesting legislative move, the ABLE Act was also considered
on the House floor as part of the Tax Increase Prevention Act (H.R. 5771) which
extended a number of individual and corporate tax breaks; the two measures were
voted on separately. As a result, action or inaction by the Senate or the President on
the tax extenders bill will not affect potential progress of the ABLE Act. Read The
Arc’s statement on the House passage at The Arc’s blog.

Civil Rights – Senate will Not Ratify Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities during the 113th Congress

Last week, retiring Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) held a call with advocates on the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) during which he shared
that there are not enough votes in the Senate to ratify the treaty during the 113th
Congress.  The CRPD was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on
December 13, 2006, signed by President Obama on June 30, 2009 and submitted on
May 17, 2012 to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent for ratification. Currently,
the CRPD has been ratified by 151 nations and signed by 159. In December 2012,
the Senate considered the treaty but fell five votes short of the 67 needed for
ratification.  Prior to this year’s Thanksgiving recess, Senator Harkin asked that the
CRPD be brought to the floor for a vote, but that request was denied. Over 800
disability, civil rights, faith, veterans’, and business organizations – including The
Arc – support ratification.  The Arc issued a press release expressing disappointment
about the Senate’s failure to ratify the CRPD.
Civil Rights – New Executive Actions Announced on Immigration

On November 20th, President Obama announced a set of executive actions that the
Administration plans to take on immigration, including the creation of a new White
House Task Force on New Americans
.  As outlined by the President, the actions focus
on: securing the border and ensuring that necessary resources are in place to do so;
providing an opportunity for 5 million undocumented immigrants to get background
checks, obtain employment, and pay taxes; holding employers accountable; and
prioritizing resources to allow a focus on those individuals who are considered public
threats, criminals, and those who have recently arrived in the United States.  With
Congress also considering a number of bills related to immigration, The Arc is working
to highlight issues that are important to immigrants with intellectual and developmental
disabilities and their families, consistent with our Public Policy Agenda, such as
ensuring that non-citizens with disabilities have a fair opportunity to enter and reside
legally in the United States and to become citizens, without unnecessary or
discriminatory restrictions.
Housing – Senate Confirms HUD Deputy Secretary

Last week, the Senate confirmed Nani Coloretti as Deputy Secretary of the
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), by a vote of 68 to 28 (with
4 Senators not voting). Deputy Secretary Coloretti’s experience prior to joining HUD
includes service as an Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Treasury
and as the Acting Chief Operating Officer of the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau (CFPB). Visit HUD’s web site to learn more.
Housing – HUD Issues Notice on Waiting List Administration

Last week, HUD issued Notice H 2014-16, “Waiting List Administration.” The notice
covers topics of opening a waiting list, placing applicants on a waiting list, and
outreach for Multifamily Housing owners including owners of project-based Section
8 housing. The notice provides specific examples related to eligible individuals with
disabilities and those with limited English proficiency, including reasonable
accommodations for persons with disabilities and the use of a lottery or other
random choice technique in scenarios where Multifamily Housing owners open a
previously-closed waiting list for a set pe riod of time.
Employment – Department of Labor Issues Fact Sheet on Raising the
Minimum Wage for Workers with Disabilities Under Executive Order 13658

Last week, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor issued a Fact
Sheet on Raising the Minimum Wage for Workers with Disabilities Under Executive
Order 13658.
  For an overview of the general provisions of the final rule
implementing Executive Order 13658, including coverage requirements, see Fact
Sheet: Final Rule to Implement Executive Order 13658, Establishing a Minimum
Wage for Contractors
; for information on employment of workers with disabilities
under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act visit DOL’s web site.

Miscellaneous – New Subcommittee Chairs and Members Announced for
House Committee on Ways and Means

Last week, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman-elect Paul Ryan
(R-WI) announced Subcommittee Chairs and Members for the 114th Congress.
Among the changes, Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA) will replace Rep. Dave
Reichert (R-WV) as Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Resources, which has
jurisdiction over Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families (TANF), and a number of social services programs. Additionally,
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) will continue to Chair the Subcommittee on Health and
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) will continue to Chair the Subcommi ttee on Social
Security.

Upcoming Events

Budget/Appropriations – House spending bill expected today; current
spending bill expires on December 11

According to press reports, House Republican leaders are expected to unveil their
government-funding bill today. This bill, unofficially dubbed the “cromnibus,” is
expect to combine a short-term continuing resolution (CR) providing funding for the
Department of Homeland Security until February with a larger omnibus bill that
funds everything else for the remainder of FY 2015 (through September 2015).
Prospects for the bill are not clear as a number of House Republicans have
expressed concerns because the bill does not specifically bar President Obama
from freezing deportations. In addition, controversial riders on environmental or
labor policy could cause the bill to lose support from Democrats. If the legislation is
unveiled on Monday, it could be on the House floor by Wednesday, giving the
Senate only one day to pass it to avoid a government shutdown on December 12.
If the cromnibus is enacted, funding for individual disability-related discretionary
programs could increase, decrease, or remain unchanged from FY 2014.

Social Security – Senate to Hold Hearing on the Importance of Social
Security for Women

On Tuesday December 9th the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing
on “Social Security: Is a Key Foundation of Economic Security Working for Women?”
Witnesses will be: Barbara Perrin of Eugene, OR; Catherine J. Dodd, Ph.D, RN,
Chair of the Board of Directors, National Committee to Preserve Social Security
and Medicare; Sita Nataraj Slavov, Ph.D, Professor of Public Policy, George
Mason University, and Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; and Janet
M. Barr, MAAA, ASA, EA, American Academy of Actuaries. Visit the Committee
web site
to view testimony and live video on the day of the hearing.


Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
 
Tony@www.thearcofil.org