Capitol Insider

Action Alerts


Major Events Last Week

Education – Senate Advances Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Reauthorization Leaving Out Important Provisions for Students with Disabilities

Last week, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), reauthorizing the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ECAA; S. 1177) and replacing No Child Left
Behind.  A number of key amendments that The Arc opposed were either defeated or the
Senate did not vote on them.  For example, the Scott Amendment (S.A. 2132) would have
allowed Title I funds to follow students to private schools; private schools would continue to
be exempt from accountability for the success of students.  The amendment was defeated
by a vote of 45-51.  Unfortunately, several important amendments that The Arc supported
were defeated, including:

  • The Casey Amendment (S.A. 2242) would have provided universal access to pre-
    school and require settings that were inclusive for children with disabilities. The
    Senate defeated this amendment on a vote of 45-52.
  • The Murphy Amendment (S.A. 2241) would have required action when schools
    underperform.  Specifically, schools where any sub-group of students (such as
    students with disabilities) failed to meet state-determined goals would have received
    locally-designed interventions and supports.  Absent this provision, no action is
    required when sub-groups of students fail to meet goals.  The Senate defeated this
    amendment on a vote of 43-54.
  • The Student Non-Discrimination Act (S.A. 2093; Franken (D-MA)) would have
    prohibited discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
    The Arc supported this amendment to protect all students, including students with
    disabilities, from discrimination and bullying because of their sexual orientation or
    gender identity.  This amendment was defeated by a vote of 52 to 45 (60 votes were
    required).For the bill to become law, the House and Senate will first have to form a
    conference committee and reconcile the difference between their two bills.  Both
    chambers must then approve the new version, before it can reach the President’s

Employment – House Holds Hearing, Releases Discussion Draft Legislation on
Reauthorization of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources
held a hearing on “Welfare Reform Proposals,” specifically involving the reauthorization of the
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Witnesses were: Kristen Cox,
Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, State of Utah; Lt. Colonel
David Kelly, Secretary of Program, Salvation Army; Boyd Brown, Area Director, Employment
and Training, Goodwill Easter Seals Minnesota; LaDonna Pavetti, Vice President for Family
Income Support Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Grant Collins, Senior Vice
President, Workforce Development and Executive Director, WeCARE Region II, FedCap. The
Committee has also released a discussion draft of legislation to reauthorize TANF. Visit the
Committee website to review written testimony and to access archived video of the hearing.

Social Security – White House Issues Report on Social Security Disability Insurance

Last week, the White House released a report, Social Security Disability Insurance: A Lifeline
for Millions of American Workers and Their Families. The report describes how SSDI insures
nearly all American workers and their families, the important role that benefits play in the
lives of nearly 11 million current beneficiaries, changes in SSDI over time, and action needed
to protect workers and ensure SSDI solvency. As noted in the report: “In 2016, SSDI
beneficiaries could face a deep and abrupt 19 percent reduction in their disability insurance
benefits if lawmakers fail to act to remedy a long-projected shortfall in the program’s
finances.” President Obama has recommended rebalancing existing Social Security payroll
taxes to ensure SSDI’s solvency through 2033 (on an even path with the rest of the Social
Security system). The Arc strongly supports this common-sense solution, which Congress
has taken numerous times in the past. Visit the White House web site to view the full report.

Medicaid – CMS Releases New Report on Medicaid Expenditures for Long-Term
Services and Supports; Webinar Scheduled for July 31

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2013
Medicaid Expenditures for Long-Term Services and Supports Report
. This report
documents progress the Medicaid program has made to promote community living for
older adults and people with disabilities.  CMS and Truven Health will host a webinar to
discuss the report findings Friday, July 31, from 3 – 4 p.m. (EDT).  To register, click here.

Rights – Department of Justice Releases Report on Service Animals and the ADA

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a technical assistance document,
Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA. The document includes
frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities
(ADA) that protect the rights of individuals and their service animals. As noted by the DOJ,
it is as a follow-up to the DOJ’s 2011 guidance on Service Animals and the Revised ADA
, and should be read in conjunction with the 2011 document.

Housing — U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Releases New Guidance on
SSI/SSDI Benefits for People Experiencing Homelessness

Last week, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), in collaboration with
the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, and the Veterans Administration, published Key Strategies for Connecting
People Experiencing Homelessness to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits. The report outlines several approaches
including: assisting people experiencing homelessness with the SSI/SSDI application
process; coordinating with SSA field offices, community organizations, and other federal
agencies; coordinating with other benefits and entitlements; working with veterans and
other special populations; and assisting SSI/SSDI beneficiaries post-entitlement. Visit the
USICH web site to read the full report.


Tax Policy – New ABLE Account Survey Offered

The ABLE National Resource Center has developed a survey to better understand how
many individuals might be eligible for ABLE accounts and how a potential beneficiary may
use an ABLE account to save for disability related expenses.  The results will be analyzed
by the ABLE National Resource Center and distributed to its members and other relevant
stakeholders.  The Arc encourages advocates to distribute the survey widely through
social media, email, and newsletters.  It is hoped that all responses will be submitted by
August 3rd, though distribution is still encouraged through the end of August. To
participate in the survey, please click here.  If you have any questions, please contact
Chris Rodriguez at the National Disability Institute.

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)