On February 7, the Senate confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. The Department of Education is responsible for implementation of federal education laws including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the Higher Education Act.
On February 16, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Seema Verma to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS oversees both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a health insurance program for Social Security beneficiaries. Medicaid is a joint state-federal health insurance program for low-income individuals. Both programs serve people with disabilities. In addition to medical care, Medicaid also covers long term supports and services such as residential support, personal assistance, respite care, supported living, assistive technology, and supported employment. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
On February 15, the House Ways and Means Committee Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the geography of poverty. The hearing will examine the differences between rural, urban, and suburban poverty. Visit the committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
On February 16, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Andrew Puzder to be the Secretary of Labor. The Department of Labor is the agency responsible for the implementation of federal labor and employment laws, including those relating to wages and hours. Additionally, it includes the Office of Disability Employment Policy which is a non-regulatory agency that promotes employment of people with disabilities. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
The Paul Marchand Internship Fund will provide $3,000 per semester or summer session to assist interns interested in pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). For 38 years, Paul Marchand was a dedicated disability policy advocate and recognized leader working on behalf of people with I/DD and the larger disability community. Upon his retirement in 2011, The Arc, with substantial contributions from United Cerebral Palsy, other organizations, and individuals with whom Paul worked during his decades in Washington, D.C. established an internship to honor Paul and to continue to cultivate disability policy advocates. See more information here.
The 2017 Disability Policy Seminar will be held in Washington, D.C. from March 20-22. This event is the premier opportunity to cultivate champions on Capitol Hill and advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). For over 40 years, this unique platform has offered the opportunity to come together with passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to learn about key issues.
The first 100 days of any new Administration and Congress are key to setting the agenda-and this year, more than ever, The Arc needs you in Washington, DC to advocate. Access to health care and community living supports, bedrock civil rights protections, and Medicaid are at risk. The Disability Policy Seminar is your chance to make an impact! Register here.
In light of a recently leaked draft Executive Order that would impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are legally residing in the United States as well as people with I/DD who are hoping to legally immigrate, The Arc released a statement:
“We are facing a civil rights crisis in our nation and people with disabilities are in the crosshairs with the latest draft Executive Order being circulated in the White House. The Executive Order, if finalized and signed by the President, would discriminate against immigrants with disabilities, making it harder to legally enter or remain in the country. To deport individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in our country legally or prevent them from immigrating, goes against the values of our nation.”
Read the full statement on The Arc’s blog.
On February 1, the Senate Finance Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is the cabinet level department that administers most federal health and social service programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act programs, Developmental Disabilities Act programs, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Additionally, it oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health. Visit the Committeeweb site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.
On February 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.
With the new year comes a new Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) Survey. We need your input! The Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with The Arc, is seeking caregivers to share their perceptions on a range of life-span issues impacting individuals with I/DD. The unique insight of the survey strengthens advocacy and informs policy changes at the Federal and State levels. The Arc invites people aged 18 years or older who provide frequent primary support to a person with I/DD to participate. Take the survey here.