Budget & Appropriations – Spending Bills Slowly Advance; House to Mark Up
Labor, Health, & Human Services, & Related Agencies Spending Bill
The House and Senate continue to advance FY 2016 appropriations bills. The House has
passed 6 of the 12 spending bills on the floor; the Senate has passed three bills out of
committee but none has yet reached the floor (see status of all appropriations bills here).
The fate of these measures is unclear as the President has threatened to veto any
appropriations bills that have sequestration cuts in place for FY 2016. The President’s FY
2016 Budget proposed to end sequestration for FY 2016 by adding $37 billion for both
non-defense discretionary and defense discretionary programs. Congress has been
deeply divided over keeping in place the sequester cuts for non-Pentagon programs and
shifting more funding to the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations fund (OCO)
which is exempt from sequestration cuts. Some Members believe that equal relief should
be provided for Pentagon and non-Pentagon programs. Despite speculation about a
possible deal to adjust current discretionary sequester spending caps, a Continuing
Resolution (CR) may be needed to fund programs when FY 2016 begins on October 1.
Spending deals may also get wrapped into broader negotiations at the end of the year,
when it will be necessary to increase the federal debt ceiling again.
On Wednesday June 17, the House Appropriations Subcommittee will begin marking up its
spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Heath, & Human Services, Education, and
Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). The L-HHS-Ed appropriations bill includes funding for the
majority of discretionary disability-related programs (such as housing, education,
employment, and transportation) and will be made available on the House Appropriations
Committee’s website on June 16. Most disability related programs have been cut
substantially over the last few years. See a listing of specific human services programs
and their funding reductions since 2010 when factoring inflation (disability-related
programs are shown in highlight).
Social Security – House to Hold Hearing on Social Security Disability Earnings
On Tuesday June 16, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on
Social Security will hold a hearing on the “Financial Risk of Returning to Work.” The
hearing will review the Social Security Administration’s management of earnings reports
from Social Security disability beneficiaries who are attempting to work. Visit the
Subcommittee’s web site to view the hearing announcement, as well as video and
testimony the day of the hearing.
Major Events Last Week
Family Support – Volunteer Caregiver Bill Introduced
H.R. 2668, the National Care Corps Act of 2015 was introduced on June 4 by Rep.
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). This bill would establish a National Care Corps
through which qualified volunteers provide care, companionship, and other services to
seniors and individuals with disabilities. The measure was referred to the Committee
on Education and the Workforce.
Housing – New Report Highlights Affordable Housing Crisis for People with
The Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
Housing Task Force have released Priced Out in 2014, a new study which highlights an
ongoing barrier to community living for people with disabilities – the lack of accessible,
affordable housing. This publication is released every two years, and includes national,
state and local data. The 2014 results show that the national average rent for a
modestly priced one-bedroom apartment is greater than the entire average
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment for a person with a disability living in the
community. “This report makes an important contribution to our understanding of the
full dimensions of the rental housing affordability crisis. It is required reading for
policymakers and the public alike,” write Former HUD Secretary Cisneros and Former
Senator Bond, co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission, in the
Priced Out in 2014 forward. To read the report and access state and local data, visit the Priced Out web site.
Employment – Department of Labor Publishes Report on Work Opportunity Tax
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a report summarizing the Work
Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) wages and occupational data for FY 2013 and 2014,
and for the first half of FY 2015. This tax incentive is intended for federal employers
who hire and retain individuals who traditionally face barriers to employment, including
people with disabilities and veterans. The information spans across national, state, as
well as regional lines. For more information, please visit
White House Seeks Nominations for Champions of Change
The White House is seeking nominations for “Champions of Change for Disability
Advocacy Across Generations”. This award recognizes individuals who have spent
many years advocating for disability rights as well as dedicated young self-advocates.
This event coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Nominations are due midnight Thursday, June 18. Nominate an individual and select
“Americans with Disabilities Act” as the Theme of Service.
Education – Department of Education Releases Annual Report on Highly
The Department of Education has released its annual report on Highly Qualified
Teachers (HQTs). To be deemed highly qualified, the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA) requires that teachers possess a baccalaureate degree and a
state teaching certificate, and that teachers also demonstrate subject-matter
knowledge. However, alternative route programs often allow candidates to teach
while they complete their coursework for full state certification or licensure to fill
critical shortage areas, such as special education. Such teachers may be considered
highly qualified under ESEA, if they meet certain standards. Many advocates are
concerned that teachers in alternative route programs may be disproportionately
assigned to teach students with greater needs (such as those with disabilities) and are
not fully prepared to teach them.
This year’s Department of Education report found that while most states employed
some HQTs who were enrolled in alternative route teacher preparation programs,
these teachers made up a small proportion, both overall as well as for the subgroups
of HQTs examined in this report. The average percentage of HQTs enrolled in
alternative route programs was 1.9% for special education teachers, 2.3% for high-
poverty school districts, and 1.3% for rural school districts.
It is important to note that the requirement for “highly qualified teachers” has been
removed from the current version of the Senate ESEA (S. 1177). Teachers must
only be “state certified” and states have multiple levels of certification, including
“temporary” and “provisional. Learn more at the Coalition for Teaching Quality.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423