Major Events Last Week
Budget & Appropriations – House passes CR through end of Fiscal Year 2013
On March 6, the House passed a 6-month continuing resolution (CR) providing funding for federal programs for the remainder of FY 2013. The current CR ends on March 27. The measure includes the automatic across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration), which signals that the cuts are likely to remain in effect unless a budget deal is reached as both parties have been unwilling, at this point, to risk a government shutdown. Differing views on whether to increase tax revenue and reform entitlement programs (namely Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), continue to prevent Congressional leaders from reaching an agreement, though there have been a few small signs of increasing flexibility. The Senate is expected to debate the measure this week.
Employment – HELP Committee Holds Hearing on State Leadership in Employment of People with Disabilities
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on “State Leadership and Innovation in Disability Employment.” Witnesses included the Honorable Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware; Jane Boone, Consultant, State Employment Leadership Network, Washington State; Mike O’Brien, Executive Director, Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services; and Don Uchida, Executive Director, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation. Visit the Committee web site to view testimony and video of the hearing.
Employment – House Marks Up Legislation to Block State TANF Waivers
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means marked up the Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act of 2013 (H.R. 890; introduced by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)). The bill would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from finalizing, implementing, enforcing, or otherwise taking any action regarding the HHS Information Memorandum (IM) issued July 12, 2012. The memorandum notified states that HHS would consider state proposals to waive some work participation requirements under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The Committee on Ways and Means reported the bill favorably by a vote of 21 to 14; the bill has also been referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The HHS IM indicated “the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.” The notice specifies that “HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.” Examples provided by HHS showed the different types of projects for which a waiver might be granted, including “projects that demonstrate strategies for more effectively serving individuals with disabilities, along with an alternative approach to measuring participation and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.” The Arc supports efforts to secure appropriate supports and services for TANF recipients with disabilities, who are estimated to make up a sizable proportion of TANF recipients.
Employment – House Introduces and Marks Up Legislation to Reauthorize WIA
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803; introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)). The legislation would consolidate major workforce development programs, include most major programs authorized under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), into a Workforce Innovation Fund that would provide funds to state and local workforce investment boards for employment and training programs. Additionally, the bill would consolidate the Projects with Industry and State Supported Employment Services Programs into the existing Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) State Grants program. States would have the option of consolidating additional programs into the Workforce Innovation Fund; however, states could not consolidate Vocational Rehabilitation programs authorized under the Rehabilitation Act. The bill is similar to legislation introduced by Rep. Foxx in the 112th Congress. The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce in addition to the Committees on the Judiciary, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, Energy and Commerce, and Transportation and Infrastructure. The Arc opposes this legislation.
The Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up the bill on March 6. The 23 Republicans on the Committee voted to approve the bill; however, the Democrats on the Committee walked out mid-debate in protest of what they viewed as a partisan process. Visit the Committee web site for more information and archived video.
Major Events Ahead
Budget & Appropriation – House and Senate FY 2014 Budgets to be released
House and Senate Budget Committee chairs Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have announced they will unveil their respective FY 2014 budgets this week. The budgets are expected to lay out long term deficit reduction plans, with markedly different balances between spending cuts and revenue increases. In an unusual situation, the Congressional budgets will come in advance of the President’s Budget which has been delayed until early April.
Social Security – House Hearing on SSDI Financing Rescheduled for March 14
The House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security has rescheduled its hearing on “Financing Challenges Facing the Social Security Disability Insurance Program” for March 14. Visit the Committee web site for more information and to view testimony and video on the day of the hearing.
Social Security – Hearing on the Social Security Administration’s Budget Postponed
The House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies has postponed its budget hearing on “Addressing Social Security Administration’s Management Challenges in a Fiscally Constrained Environment.” A new hearing date has not yet been announced.
New Film Follows The Arc Audi Racing Program in Action
Last year, The Arc launched The Arc Audi Racing Program, a partnership between The Arc and RS Werkes (formerly Istook’s Motorsports). The goal was to provide a unique opportunity for people with I/DD to get a taste of what it is like to be part of a fast-paced professional race crew at select races in the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge race series. This remarkable program allowed chapters of The Arc to participate in races across the country, and gave individuals with I/DD a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The program sparked the interested of award-winning film producer and director Heidi Reinberg. Following a chapter as they participated in the program she captured a day at the race track with people with I/DD, including a pit crew member, who is raising awareness about what people with I/DD can do when given the chance. Check out The Arc of San Francisco’s day at the race track.
The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation Public Policy Fellowship Program 2013-2014
The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation is seeking exemplary professionals and/or family members of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities and/or persons with disabilities, particularly self-advocates who are currently working, advocating or volunteering in the field of inclusive services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for an intensive one-year Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Fellowship is to prepare emerging and seasoned leaders to assume leadership in the public policy arena nationally and in their home state. During this one year Fellowship, the successful applicant will learn how federal legislation is initiated, developed, and passed by the Congress, as well as how programs are administered and regulations promulgated by federal agencies.
The sole method of application, letters and résumé submission is via an online system that can be found at http://www.aucd.org/app/jpkffellowship2013. The application deadline for 2013-2014 is April 5, 2013 by 5:00 P.M. EST