While Congress remains on recess, this week may represent the home stretch for the bipartisan efforts of the “Gang of Six” senators working on a deficit reduction plan. The gang – Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Mark Warner of Virginia and Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and Mike Crapo of Idaho – have been working to come up with a plan to slash the nation’s deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Appearing Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) said the group must produce a plan soon or “we won’t be relevant to this discussion.” Members of the group have suggested their plan will be released by next week, in time for a part of it to be linked to a vote to raise the federal debt ceiling. This and all other deficit reduction efforts are extremely important to people with disabilities since they are expected to propose cuts to federal spending on both mandatory and discretionary programs on which people with disabilities rely. Mandatory programs are those whose funding is required by federal legislation and include Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); discretionary programs are those that Congress chooses to fund annually and include IDEA, supported employment, protection and advocacy (P&A) programs, and Section 811 supportive housing for persons with disabilities.