Major Cuts to Disability programs approved by the House; Senate to work on its spending bill next week

On Saturday, the House of Representatives completed work on a FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) that would make landmark cuts to domestic discretionary funding in the remainder of this fiscal year.  The cuts to programs were over $100 billion when compared to what President Obama requested for FY 2011.  Over 580 amendments were offered during the debate on the bill, with 67 passing that cut an additional $620 million. The overwhelming majority of the cuts were to domestic programs though $19 billion did come from security-related cuts.  The Senate is expected to work on a CR when they return from the President’s day recess the week of February 28. The Senate Democratic leadership has signaled an unwillingness to pursue the level of cuts in the House bill but it is unclear what the strategy will be.

While reducing the deficit is important to all Americans, The Arc and UCP will continue work diligently to ensure that this is not done at the expense of the most vulnerable, underserved, and unserved segment of our society.  We will be calling on our grassroots in the coming weeks to help preserve the most essential programs for people with disabilities.

Below are some examples of the program cuts in the House bill:

Health Care:  Nine amendments were accepted aimed at blocking implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prohibiting funds to pay the salary of employees or contractors working on implementation and prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing the individual responsibility section of the ACA.

Employment:  The House bill eliminates the State Supported Employment grant program and the Projects with Industry grant program.  Also the overall amount of funding to states for employment and training was cut by nearly $1.4 billion.

Housing: Housing for Persons with Disabilities would be cut by 70%.  The Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program budget would be cut from the FY 2010 level of $300 million to $90 million for FY 2011.

Special Education: The House bill would cut funding to states for special education by $557 million.  Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers introduced an amendment which passed by a vote of 249 to 179.  The amendment would restore the $557 million to special education by taking that amount from regular education.  Several advocacy groups, including the Council for Exceptional Children, had opposed the amendment stating that it “robbed Peter to pay Paul.”

Social Security:  The Administration’s “Limitation on Administrative Expenses,” the amount the agency spends on salaries and other costs to administer its programs, would be funded at $10.675 billion.  This is $1.7 billion less than the President’s request for FY 2011 and will result in increased backlogs in disability cases.  In anticipation of the possibility of this reduced spending level, SSA has imposed a hiring freeze and is planning for the possibility of furloughs.

Transportation:  The biggest cut to transportation was to the high speed rail program, a priority of the Obama Administration.  Amtrak was cut an additional $151 million.

Special Olympics: All funding would be eliminated.

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