Major Recent Events
Budget – President Obama releases FY 2014 spending plan
President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget request on April 10. Overall, the President’s Budget would cancel the across-the-board cuts for FY 2014-2021 through targeted spending cuts and increased revenues and reduce the deficit over the long term.
While the President’s Budget would not make structural changes to Medicaid and Social Security, it does propose a change that would result in benefit cuts in Social Security programs. It includes a plan to use a different measure of inflation, known as the “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI), to calculate cost of living increases. The Arc remains concerned that the measures to limit the effect of this change on very low income persons would still result in benefit cuts for many people with disabilities.
Most disability-related discretionary programs would be level funded at the FY 2012 level in the President’s Budget (it is not possible to say how the proposed FY 2014 funding compares to the FY 2013 amounts as federal agencies are still in the process of determining how they will allocate the approximate 5.2 % funding cuts within affected programs). Proposed increases and decreases from FY 2012 funding levels for disability-related programs are listed below:
|Dept. of HHS – Center on Birth Defects & DDs
|Dept. of HHS – Natl. Institute of Child Health and Human Dev.
Dept. of ED – IDEA- Part C Early Intervention
|Dept. of ED – IDEA- Part D National Programs
|Dept. of ED – Research in Special Education
|Dept. of ED – Personnel Preparation
|Dept. of ED – State Assistive Technology Programs
|Dept. of ED – Voc. Rehabilitation State Grant
|Dept. of ED – Natl. Inst. on Disability & Rehab Research
|Dept. of ED – Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education
|Dept. of Labor – Office of Disability Employment Policy
|Dept. of HUD – Section 811 Supportive Housing PRA Demo
In addition, there are a few noteworthy changes proposed in the President’s Budget:
- Reduction of funding for new supported housing units. A significant reduction is proposed for the Section 811 housing program for persons with disabilities Project Rental Assistance (PRA) Demonstration. The President’s Budget provides for only $20 million to develop 700 new units of supported housing, down from $98 million in FY 2012 to develop 3,500 new units of supported housing.
- Use of the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) to fund existing programs. The PPHF was created by the health reform law to substantially expand investments in our public health system. Unfortunately, some of the funding in the past has been used to pay for other programs. The President’s request also proposes to use the PPHF to fund other programs. The President’s FY 2014 Budget would take 52% of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities funding from the PPHF, placing its long term funding at risk.
- Consolidation of Education programs. Several Education Department programs would be consolidated, including the Postsecondary Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, into the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education, and the Supported Employment State Grant into Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants.
Learn more about the FY 2014 President’s Budget at:
Social Security – SSI Restoration Act Introduced
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has introduced the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act (H.R. 1601). The bill would update the SSI resource limits, to $10,000 for an individual or $15,000 for a couple – the amount they would be today if adjusted for inflation since 1989, the last time the resource limits were updated. The bill would also update the general income disregard (to $110 per month) and the earned income disregard (to $357 per month) to the amounts they would be today if adjusted for inflation since 1972, the last time they were updated. Finally, the bill would repeal the in-kind support and maintenance provision and repeal the SSI transfer penalty.
The Arc’s T.J. Sutcliffe spoke at a Hill briefing last week on the legislation, hosted by Rep. Grijalva and sponsored by the National Senior Citizens Law Center. Read The Arc’s full statement in support of this important legislation.
Social Security – House Holds Hearing on Chained CPI
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on “President’s and Other Bipartisan Entitlement Reform Proposals.” The hearing focused on proposals to use the chained Consumer Price Index (“chained CPI”) for cost-of-living adjustments under Social Security and other programs, as well as the federal tax code. The Arc strongly opposes use of the chained CPI for Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, the federal poverty guidelines, and other vital programs for low-income people, including people with disabilities. Visit the Committee’s web site to review testimony and archived video from the hearing. Visit The Arc’s web site to learn more about our concerns with the chained CPI.
Immigration – Gang of 8 Introduces Bipartisan Immigration Bill
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of eight Senators. The Senate “Gang of 8” includes Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The bill includes a 13-year pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented individuals. It increases the number of visas for high-skilled workers, creates a new “W-visa” category for low-skilled workers and calls for enhanced border security. The bill requires employers to use an improved version of the electronic system, E-Verify, to determine employees’ legal status. The E-verify portion of the law would be phased in according to the number of employees, culminating in coverage of all employers within four years.
The new W-visa program would begin in 2015 and be capped at 20,000 workers. The cap would rise to 75,000 by 2019. Workers could stay for three years with their families. They would be able to apply to renew their visas. There is a change to family visas. Family visas would be available for parents, children and spouses of citizens and permanent legal residents. Eighteen months after enactment of the law, siblings and adult children would no longer be included in that category. Two days after the bill was introduced, despite the fact that it is over 800 pages long and is still being analyzed, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and has scheduled a second hearing on the bill for April 22.
700 Advocates Descend on Washington to Share Their Story
This year’s Disability Policy Seminar was a huge success, with 700 advocates traveling to Washington, DC to learn about the latest in federal public policy relating to people with I/DD, and then fanning out across Capitol Hill to meet with their Members of Congress. The first two days were jam-packed with informative briefings from leaders in the disability field, including staff members for key Members of Congress, and advocates engaged in questions and networking with their fellow attendees. The final morning began with a coffee kick-off in a U.S. Senate hearing room, where Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) spoke to the crowd before a full day of advocates’ meetings with Members of Congress on issues including Medicaid, Social Security, the ABLE Act, and more. Join us next year, April 6-9, 2014 in Washington, DC!
Major Events This Week
Social Security – House to Hold Hearing on Challenges Facing the Next Commissioner of Social Security
On April 26th the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on “Challenges Facing the Next Commissioner of Social Security.” According to the hearing announcement, the hearing will focus on “the challenges facing the next Commissioner, including those related to service delivery capacity, human capital management, strategic planning, information technology, physical infrastructure and the agency’s ability to effectively administer Social Security programs.” Visit the Committee web site to view the hearing announcement as well as live video the day of the hearing.
Housing – April is Fair Housing Month
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status or disability. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced this year’s Fair Housing Month theme as, “Our Work Today Defines Our Tomorrow.” HUD and the National Fair Housing Alliance have released videos and fliers as part of a national media campaign. State and local disability advocates are encouraged to participate in this opportunity to enhance awareness of the Fair Housing Act and its important protections for people with disabilities and other covered groups.