Major Events Last Week
Social Security – Social Security Caregiver Credit Act Introduced in Senate
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has introduced the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act of 2016 (S. 2721). Because Social Security benefits are based on earnings, family caregivers currently face cuts in their own Social Security benefits when they have to reduce their hours of paid work, or leave the work force entirely, to provide ongoing support to a child or adult family member with a significant disability. The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act will provide a Social Security earnings record credit to family caregivers in these situations. “The Arc applauds Senator Murphy for introducing this much-needed bill to ensure that Americans who reduce their employment to care for a family member with a disability won’t as a result face severe cuts in their own Social Security benefits. These family members are contributing to their families and their communities in way that should be recognized when it comes to their future financial stability,” said Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy at The Arc. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
Budget & Appropriations – Balanced Budget Amendment Bill Introduced: Threatens All Federal Spending Programs
While the prospects of either the House or Senate taking up a Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget resolution are unclear, a new fiscal threat is reemerging. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill (S.J.Res 6) with 54 original cosponsors. This measure proposes a constitutional balanced budget amendment (BBA) prohibiting total outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year. It contains a global spending cap that limits total federal spending to a severe 18% of gross domestic product (GDP), imposes a 2/3 vote requirement to raise revenues or exceed the spending cap, as well as a 3/5 vote requirement for raising the debt limit. The Arc strongly opposes a BBA because it would likely force drastic cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and a number of other programs that people with disabilities rely on to live in the community. Learn more here.
Family Support – House Passes Older Americans Act (OAA) Reauthorization that Expands Eligibility for Family Support Program
On March 21, the House passed the OAA reauthorization (S. 192) by unanimous voice vote. The bill, sponsored by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), among many other things, includes a fix to the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). The NFCSP, which received $150 million in FY 2016, provides information to caregivers about available services, assistance in accessing services, individual counseling, support groups, caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services. S. 192 would extend NFCSP eligibility to older (age 55 and over) caregivers of persons (age 19 to 59) with disabilities. The measure now returns to the Senate for a vote as a number of changes were made to the bill since the Senate passed it last summer.
Disability Policy Seminar – Online Registration Closes April 6, 2016
Please join us at the Disability Policy Seminar on April 11-13, 2016. The program features sessions on the home and community based settings rule, Medicaid, education policy, and voting rights. Online registration ends April 6 so do not miss the opportunity to hear the latest on the issues and meet with your elected officials.
Miscellaneous News – 8th Intern Selected for Paul Marchand Internship for Summer 2016 Session; The Arc is Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2016 Session
Darci Ladwig has been selected as the eighth recipient of the Paul Marchand internship. Ms. Ladwig is a parent advocate with both professional and volunteer experience in the field of disability advocacy. Most recently, she has worked for Partners for Action, Voices for Empowerment (PAVE), The Arc of Spokane, and the Spokane County Parent Coalition. The Paul Marchand Internship Fund provides $3,000 per semester or summer session to assist interns interested in pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Click here for more information.
NOTE: With Congress on recess until April 11, the next issue of Capitol Insider will be published on April 18. In the meantime, please check the Capitol Insider blog for updates.
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