Congress: House Education and Labor Committee Leadership Announced

Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) will serve as Chair of the full committee and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will serve as Ranking Member. Additionally, the following will serve as Subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members, respectively:

  • Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education: Delegate Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI) and Representative Rick Allen (R-GA)
  • Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions: Representatives Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Tim Walberg (R-MI)
  • Higher Education and Workforce Investment: Representatives Susan A. Davis (D-CA) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)
  • Workforce Protections: Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL)
  • Civil Rights and Human Resources: Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and James Comer (R-KY)

A full list of members can be found on the committee website.

Education: Senators Introduce School Voucher Bill

On January 16, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and 10 other Senators introduced the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act (CHOICE) Act. The CHOICE Act amends the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which provides private school vouchers for low-income students in the District of Columbia; allows Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds to follow a student parentally placed in a private school using a voucher or tax credit scholarship; and establishes a pilot program for providing school vouchers to military families. The Arc opposes these programs because schools participating in them are not required to follow the IDEA or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Income Support: Workers Speak Out on Disability and Health: New Report on Paid Family Leave and the Disability Angle

The Arc and the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have released Disability Perspectives on Paid Leave: A Qualitative Analysis of Leave-taking Among Workers Affected by Disabilities or Serious Health Conditions. This ground-breaking research examines how workers with disabilities and working caregivers of people with disabilities use, need, and benefit from paid family and medical leave. It is one of the only studies to specifically explore whether current paid and unpaid leave policies and programs meet the needs of the disability community. Findings offer key insights on how existing leave policies can become more disability-inclusive and highlight the need for a comprehensive, national paid leave policy. Read the full report at www.thearc.org/paidleavestudy.

Miscellaneous: Attend the Disability Policy Seminar on April 8-10

Registration is open for the for the 2019 Disability Policy Seminar, the premier event for cultivating champions on Capitol Hill and advancing the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Join other passionate advocates and professionals from around the country to get up-to-date on the latest policy issues and legislation and to advocate for the programs that people with disabilities rely on to make a life in their communities possible. Register today!

Budget & Appropriations: President Trump Signs Short-Term Funding Bill Ending Partial Government Shutdown

On January 25, President Trump announced a deal to re-open the government until February 15 with the expectation that negotiations on a longer term deal would occur during that time. The Senate and the House of Representatives both passed a three-week continuing resolution, which was signed by President Trump. The Arc welcomes the restoration of funding for programs that are important to people with disabilities and hopes for prompt enactment of funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2019.

Medicaid/LTSS: Short-Term MFP Extension Signed Into Law

On January 24, 2019, the President signed into law H.R. 259, the “Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019,” which extends the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. The measure provides 3 months of funding for the MFP program, which states have until September 30, 2019 to spend. MFP has helped more than 88,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities move out of nursing homes and institutions. Independent evaluations have proven that MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and has reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP. Additionally, the bill extends Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections for home and community-based services beneficiaries until March 31. The spousal impoverishment protection allows the spouse of a Medicaid long term services and supports (LTSS) beneficiary to maintain a modest amount of income and resources for food, rent, and medication. The Arc would like to thank advocates who contacted their Members of Congress on this important issue.

Education: Senators Introduce DC School Voucher Reauthorization

On January 24, Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which provides private school vouchers for low-income students in the District of Columbia. The Arc opposes the program because schools participating in the program are not required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Budget & Appropriations: House Passes Funding Bills to End Partial Government Shutdown

On January 18, the House passed a six-week continuing resolution (CR) by voice vote to extend temporary funding through February 28 for agencies that are not presently funded. The CR contains six spending bills that were negotiated by the House and Senate last fall: Agriculture, Transportation-HUD, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, State and Foreign Ops, and Commerce-Justice-Science. The package also includes a way to pay furloughed federal employees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not bring any spending measure to the Senate for a vote unless the President has agreed to sign it. President Trump maintains he will not sign the measures to end the partial shutdown if they do not include $5.7 billion for the border wall with Mexico. The Arc supports promptly restoring funding for agencies funded through the Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-HUD appropriations packages as these agencies operate programs important to people with disabilities.

Medicaid/LTSS: Senate Approves MFP Extension

On January 17, the Senate approved H.R.259, which extends the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program until September 30. The MFP program has helped more than 88,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities move out of nursing homes and institutions. Independent evaluations have proven that MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and has reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP. Additionally, the bill extends Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections for home and community-based services beneficiaries until March 31. The spousal impoverishment protection allows the spouse of a Medicaid long term services and supports (LTSS) beneficiary to maintain a modest amount of income and resources for food, rent, and medication. The bill now awaits President Trump’s signature. The Arc would like to thank advocates who contacted their Members of Congress on this important issue.

Rights/LTSS: Disability Integration Act Reintroduced

On January 15, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reintroduced the Disability Integration Act (H.R.555/S.117). The Disability Integration Act requires states to offer community-based options. Additionally, it requires states to address the need for affordable housing. ADAPT and other advocates held a briefing on the day of introduction.