Major Events Last Week
Budget – Debt ceiling deal reached, temporarily removing threat of default from spending and revenue obligations
On Jan 23 and 31, respectively, the House and Senate passed the “No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013” to temporarily increase the nation’s debt limit until May 19. This action postpones the threat of federal government defaulting on its obligations. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. The legislation temporarily suspends the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing, which will allow the government to meet obligations like Social Security benefits and government salaries. It also holds the salaries of Members of Congress in escrow if the House and Senate fail to pass a budget resolution by April 15.
The measure changes the order of major fiscal showdowns Congress faces. The debt ceiling increase now moves to the end of the series of critical budget events:
- March 01 – Across-the-board spending cuts (“sequestration”) to take effect
- March 27 – FY 2013 short term appropriation (“continuing resolution”) ends
- March 30 – President Obama expected to submit FY 2014 Budget Request
- April 15 – Deadline for House and Senate to pass FY 2014 Budget Resolution
- May 19 – Debt ceiling increase expires
Republican leadership in the House of Representatives initiated this effort to try to force the Senate to describe its proposal to address the federal deficit. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the new chair of the Senate Budget Committee, had earlier announced her intention to have the Committee produce a budget resolution. Having a budget resolution passed by the Senate would mark a new starting point for negotiations on a long term deal.
The Arc will continue to advocate for the protection of disability-related entitlement and discretionary programs and for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes revenues during these critical budget events.
Employment – Disability-related employment discrimination claims increased in 2012
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported a slight decrease in employment discrimination complaints it received in fiscal year 2012. However, EEOC received a higher number of disability-related employment discrimination complaints in FY 2012 than it had during the previous year. In 2012, 26,379 complaints alleging disability employment discrimination were filed with EEOC, an increase over 2011’s 25,742 complaints. Claims of employment discrimination based on disability represented 26.5% of total complaints in FY 2012.
Social Security – The Arc’s Peter Berns speaks out in Washington to protect Social Security from harmful cuts
Many programs vital to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have been at risk of deep cuts during the recent deficit reduction negotiations. Social Security is still in danger of being cut as Members of Congress consider a proposal to change the way benefits are calculated. This shift to what is called the “chained CPI” is a cut to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Cuts from the “chained CPI” get bigger every year and could have horrible consequences for people with I/DD over time.
Last week, The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns was invited to speak at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, organized by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Berns was joined by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and representatives from other organizations whose constituencies would be impacted by this benefit cut. To read more visit our blog.