Capitol Insider


Major Events Ahead

Budget – Efforts Calling for a Constitutional Convention Gain Momentum; Could
Dramatically Harm Disability Programs

Efforts to enact a Constitutional Convention to limit federal power and impose fiscal
restraint are gaining steam as state legislatures are called into session.  There are two
ways to amend the Constitution: 1) Congress, by a two-thirds vote of both houses, may
propose amendments to the states for ratification; and 2) If the legislatures of two-thirds
(34) of the states apply, Congress “shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…”
On February 18, South Dakota became the 25th state to adopt a resolution calling on
Congress to enact a Constitutional Convention to enact a balanced budget amendment.
Additionally, there are measures for a balanced budget amendment (BBA) and a
Constitutional Convention moving in 15 state legislatures: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho,
Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota,
Oklahoma, P ennsylvania, South Carolina, , Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia  with
resolutions having already passed in North Dakota (House) and Arizona (House),
inching proponents closer to the necessary 34 needed to call a Constitutional

The Arc strongly opposes a BBA as it would likely force drastic cuts in Social Security,
Medicaid, Medicare, and a number of other programs that people with disabilities rely
on to live in the community.
  Advocates are encouraged to work with their state fiscal
policy institutes in these states.  Learn more at:

Health Care—Supreme Court Considers Affordable Care Act Challenge

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in King v. Burwell, a challenge to the financial
assistance provided to people who purchase private health insurance from the federal
marketplaces.   Currently, 37 states have either a federally managed marketplace or a
federal-state partnership marketplace. The financial assistance helps people with low
and moderate income afford health insurance and is considered vital to ensure that
people have access to private health insurance.  The arguments will be heard March 4th
though a decision is not expected until early June.

Major Recent Events

Education – Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization Bill
Stalled in House of Representatives

Leadership in the House of Representatives canceled the vote which was scheduled for
February 27 to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) after
support for the measure declined and debate over Department of Homeland Security
funding eclipsed the education debate.  H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, which seeks to
limit the federal government’s power to set education standards across the country, failed
to secure enough support among moderate members.  A number of controversial issues
limited support for the bill, including the Common Core ac ademic standards, school
vouchers, and federal reporting and accountability mandates.  The Arc supports the
proposed ESEA substitute bill developed by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) which
proposes a variety of measures to strengthen education for students with disabilities and
disadvantaged students.   Attention now turns back to the Senate, where Senators Lamar
Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) continue to negotiate a compromise bill.

Social Security – House Holds Hearing on Social Security Disability Insurance

Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security
held a hearing on “Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund’s Solvency.”  Witnesses
were Charles P. Blahous III, Ph.D., Public Trustee, Social Security and Medicare Boards of
Trustees; Ed Lorenzen, Senior Advisor, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget; and
Webster Phillips, Senior Legislative Representative, National Committee to Preserve Social
Security and Medicare.  The Arc joined with 47 other members of the Consortium for
Citizens with Disabilities to submit a statement for the record of the hearing.  Visit the
Committee web site to view testimony and archived video of the hearing.

Social Security / Budget and Appropriations – House Holds Hearing on “The Vital
Responsibility of Serving the Nation’s Aging and Disabled Communities”

Last week, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and
Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing on “The Vital
Responsibility of Serving the Nation’s Aging and Disabled Communities.”  Witnesses were
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration and Kathy
Greenlee, Administrator, Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and
Human Services.  Visit the Committee web site to view testimony, Chairman Tom Cole’s
(R-OK) opening statement, and archived video of the hearing.

Health Care—Legislation Introduced to Extend the Children’s Health Insurance
Program (CHIP)

Majority leaders in the House and Senate have released a draft bill to extend the CHIP
program.  The authorization for funding is set to expire September 30, 2015.  This effort
is being led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chair, Senate Finance Committee,
Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair, House Energy and Commerce, and
Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chair, Subcommittee on Health, House Energy and
Commerce Committee.  In addition to extending authorization for the program, the draft
makes a number of policy changes including allowing states to impose waiting periods,
eliminating funding for states to cover children with family incomes above 300 percent of
poverty, and reducing federal matching funds for those above 250 percent.   Earlier this
month Democrats had introduced a 4 year extension that did not make major policy
changes to the program.  The Arc is pleased to see bipartisan support for this critical health
program and will continue to advocate for a program that best meets the needs of children
and families who need health insurance.

Employment – Bill to Block State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Waivers Reintroduced in House

Last week, Representative Tom Reed (R-NY), introduced the Preserving the Work
Requirement for Welfare Act (H.R. 1179) along with 12 cosponsors.  The bill, which is similar
to legislation that passed the House during the 113th Congress, was referred to the
Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

H.R. 1179 would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from waiving
work participation requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
program, as authorized in a HHS Information Memorandum (IM) issued July 12, 2012.  The
IM indicated “the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority under section 1115
of the Social Security Act to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies,
and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.” It
specifies that “HHS will o nly consider approving waivers relating to the work participation
requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the
work goals of TANF.”  Examples provided of the different types of projects for which a waiver
might be granted included “projects that demonstrate strategies for more effectively serving
individuals with disabilities, along with an alternative approach to measuring participation and
outcomes for individuals with disabilities.”  The Arc supports efforts to secure appropriate
supports and services for TANF recipients with disabilities, who are estimated to make up a
sizable proportion of TANF recipients.  The Arc opposes H.R. 1179.


Disability Policy Seminar – Get Involved and Get the Facts

The Disability Policy Seminar is taking place April 13th- 15th, in Washington, D.C., at a new
location – Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel. Come and be a part of the solution
by registering today! Early bird registration and discounted pricing ends March 13th. With so
many powerful advocates in Congress moving on, it is time for the next generation to step up
and make a stand. B udget cuts are already threatening to severely limit, or in some instances,
completely cut disability benefits through Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability
Insurance. Disability policy is at a crucial turning point. In order to show Congress how important
our programs are, we must band together and put a face on disability issues.

Hosted by: The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Association of University Centers on
Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD),
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and Self-Advocates
Becoming Empowered (SABE)

Promotional Support Provided by: Sibling Leadership Network as well as AAPD

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