Major Upcoming Events
Employment – Senate to Hold Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Labor Nominee
On February 16, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Andrew Puzder to be the Secretary of Labor. The Department of Labor is the agency responsible for the implementation of federal labor and employment laws, including those relating to wages and hours. Additionally, it includes the Office of Disability Employment Policy which is a non-regulatory agency that promotes employment of people with disabilities. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
Income Support – House to Hold Hearing on the Geography of Poverty
On February 15, the House Ways and Means Committee Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the geography of poverty. The hearing will examine the differences between rural, urban, and suburban poverty. Visit the committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
Health/Medicaid – Senate to Hold Confirmation Hearing for CMS Administrator Nominee
On February 16, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Seema Verma to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS oversees both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a health insurance program for Social Security beneficiaries. Medicaid is a joint state-federal health insurance program for low-income individuals. Both programs serve people with disabilities. In addition to medical care, Medicaid also covers long term supports and services such as residential support, personal assistance, respite care, supported living, assistive technology, and supported employment. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
Major Recent Events
Education – Senate Approves Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary
On February 7, the Senate confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. The Department of Education is responsible for implementation of federal education laws including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the Higher Education Act.
Education – DeVos Issues Letter on ESSA implementation
On February 10, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a letter to chief state school officers intended to provide clarity on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This letter follows the announced delay by the Department of Education of the effective date of regulations concerning accountability and State plans until March 21, 2017, as the Administration reviews recently issued regulations. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress 60 legislative days to disapprove of certain regulations recently issued by federal agencies. On Feb 7, the House passed H.J. Res. 57 to overturn the regulation on accountability and state plans that went into effect on Jan 30, 2017. The Senate vote on the measure has not yet been announced.
The February 10 letter emphasizes that states should continue to move forward and that the Department will work to ensure that states’ education leaders have the state and local flexibility that Congress intended. States should continue to follow the timeline for developing and submitting their plans for review and approval, building on the work they have already completed. The Department will still accept consolidated State plans on April 3 or September 18, 2017. Further guidance will be issued on the state plan requirements by March 13, 2017. The Arc supports strong accountability regulations in order to provide transparency in the performance of all students, including those with disabilities.
Rights – Senate Approves Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
On February 8, the Senate confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a vote of 52-47. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Health – Senate Approves Tom Price as HHS Secretary
On February 10, the Senate confirmed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price by a vote of 52-47. HHS is the cabinet level department that administers most federal health and social service programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act programs, Developmental Disabilities Act programs, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Additionally, it oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.
Education – House Holds Hearing on Charter Schools and Voucher Programs
On February 2, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee held a hearing examining charter schools and voucher programs throughout the country. Witnesses included Michael L. William, former Texas Commissioner of Education; Almo J. Carter, a parent of a child with a disability from Washington, D.C.; Kevin Kubacki, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Charter Network in Indianapolis, IN; and Nina Cherry, a parent from Dover, FL. Visit the Committee web site for more information, including testimony and archived video.
Disability Policy Seminar – Registration for the 2017 Seminar is Open
The 2017 Disability Policy Seminar will be held in Washington, D.C. from March 20-22. This event is the premier opportunity to cultivate champions on Capitol Hill and advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). For over 40 years, this unique platform has offered the opportunity to come together with passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to learn about key issues.
The first 100 days of any new Administration and Congress are key to setting the agenda-and this year, more than ever, The Arc needs you in Washington, DC to advocate. Access to health care and community living supports, bedrock civil rights protections, and Medicaid are at risk. The Disability Policy Seminar is your chance to make an impact! Register here.
Paul Marchand Internship Application for Summer 2017 Session
Due Feb. 15
The Paul Marchand Internship Fund will provide $3,000 per semester or summer session to assist interns interested in pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). For 38 years, Paul Marchand was a dedicated disability policy advocate and recognized leader working on behalf of people with I/DD and the larger disability community. Upon his retirement in 2011, The Arc, with substantial contributions from United Cerebral Palsy, other organizations, and individuals with whom Paul worked during his decades in Washington, D.C. established an internship to honor Paul and to continue to cultivate disability policy advocates. See more information here.
The Arc Seeking Caregivers for FINDS Survey
With the new year comes a new Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) Survey. We need your input! The Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with The Arc, is seeking caregivers to share their perceptions on a range of life-span issues impacting individuals with I/DD. The Arc invites people aged 18 years or older who provide frequent primary support to a person with I/DD to participate. Take the survey here.
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423