Civil Rights – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
With Congress’ return, there is a possibility that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) could come to the Senate for approval. Sixty votes would be needed for approval. The Arc and other advocates have been working hard to educate Senators about what the treaty would mean for the US. Ratification of the treaty would reinforce the leadership role our country plays in disability rights. Ratification would require no change to any of our existing laws. Contact your Senators and urge them to vote YES on the CRPD.
Call Today: Help Protect Federal Disability Programs
Recent Major Events
Budget – Lame Duck Congress Begins
Today, the 112th Congress will begin a lame duck session to deal with budget and tax policy and potentially other items that were unfinished when Congress left for the election. There is pressure on Congress to address the tax cuts that will expire, the cuts to Medicare providers that will occur, and the automatic across the board spending cuts that will happen at the end of the year unless Congress acts. The President and the leadership of the House and Senate are expected to begin negotiations on what will be the framework of an agreement to address these critical issues. The Arc will continue to urge Congress to protect critical programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and Social Security, that provide a critical lifeline for people with I/DD.
While the election did not result in major changes in the House and Senate majorities, it did result in openings on key Committees important to people with I/DD. The Democrats in the Senate picked up 2 seats and it is assumed that the Independents (newly elected Angus King (I-ME) and re-elected Bernard Sanders (I-VT) will caucus with the Democrats. However, the 55-45 majority is still short of the 60 votes needed to stop filibusters (a procedural maneuver that results in needing 60 votes rather than a simple majority to pass legislation). While all of the election results are not final in the House races the Republican majority retains a significant advantage (likely 234-201) as compared to the current Congress (242-196 with 3 vacancies). When the 113th Congress convenes in January several Committees and Subcommittee will have new leadership including:
- Ranking Minority Member, Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) (Senator Enzi R-WY is term limited and it is likely that Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TX) will step into that role)
- Chair, Senate Budget Committee (Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) retired)
- Ranking member, House Appropriations (Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA) retired)
- Chair, House Labor, Health and Human Services Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) defeated in Senate bid)
- Chair and Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee of Ways and Means will both be open given the retirement of Rep. Herger (R-CA) and defeat of Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)
These and other changes will lead to a shuffling of chairmanships and other positions as Members and leadership weigh the different options.
Americans with Disabilities Act – National Council on Disability releases new report
The National Council on Disability released a new report, “Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business” and a Deinstitutionalization Toolkit for advocates and policymakers who want to help people transition into the community from institutions. The toolkit includes information and tips to address myths and counter arguments against closing institutions.
Civil Rights – Seeking stories from voters with disabilities across the nation
In coordination with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and EIN SOF Communications, the National Council on Disability is collecting voting experiences in the form of an open-ended questionnaire from voters with disabilities across the nation during the November 2012 election. Completed questionnaires should be sent to:
Voting.Questionnaire@ndrn.org or sent via postal mail to:
NDRN, 900 Second Street, NE, Suite 211, Washington, DC 20002. A Final Report on the findings will be published in early 2013.