On June 2, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, The Arc released a statement condemning the ongoing violence and police brutality against black people in our country. In the statement, The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns stated, “The Arc renews its own commitment to social justice and the dismantling of the systems of oppression and discrimination that further this violence and neglect.” Read the full statement.
On June 3, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act (S.3878). This bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for being family caregivers. Additionally, the bill establishes a grant program to help prevent such discrimination. The Arc supports this bill.
On June 3, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing titled “The State of Transportation and Critical Infrastructure: Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Witnesses were John Bozzella, President and Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for Automotive Innovation; Randy Guillot, Chairman of the Board, American Trucking Associations; Ian Jefferies, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of American Railroads; Alex Oehler, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America; and Larry Willis, President, Transportation Trades Department, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Visit the committee website for more information or to access video of the hearing.
On June 3, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released text of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act. This bill reauthorizes the surface transportation programs, currently set to expire September 30. It also increases funding for the Section 5310 program (for the enhanced mobility of seniors and people with disabilities), creates a one-stop paratransit pilot program, and streamlines the disability-discrimination accessibility complaint process for the Federal Transit Administration, among other important provisions.
On June 10, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing on titled “COVID-19: Going Back to School Safely.” Witnesses will be Dr. Penny Schwinn, Commissioner of Education, Tennessee Department of Education; Dr. Matthew Blomstedt, Commissioner of Education, Nebraska Department of Education; Susana Cordova, Superintendent, Denver Public Schools; and The Honorable John B. King, Jr., President And CEO, The Education Trust. Visit the committee website for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.
On June 9, the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing titled Unemployment “Insurance During COVID-19: The CARES Act and the Role of Unemployment Insurance During the Pandemic.” Witnesses will be Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia; Michele Evermore, Senior Policy Analyst, National Employment Law Project; Les Neilly, President, Neilly Canvas Goods Company; State Senator José Javier Rodríguez (D-FL); Scott Sanders, Executive Director National Association of State Workforce Agencies; and Beth Townsend, Director, Iowa Workforce Development. Visit the committee website for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.
On May 18, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a virtual briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on seniors and individuals with disabilities. In its press release, the Committee notes that many long term care facilities are experiences outbreaks. The witnesses were Shireen McSpadden, Executive Director of the Department of Disability and Aging Services for the City and County of San Francisco, and Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living. See a recording of the briefing here.
On May 15, the House passed its fourth coronavirus package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R.6800) with a vote of 208-199.
This package includes:
- Increased federal funding for home and community based services (HCBS) under Medicaid
- Expanded eligibility for economic impact payments to adult dependents and another round of payments
- Paid leave eligibility for family caregivers of adults with disabilities, including siblings and grandparents
See The Arc’s statement. Now we need the Senate to pass legislation that includes the critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional workforce. Contact your Senators now.
Congressional leaders continue work on another COVID-19 package that could be voted on this month. House Democrats are expected to release a package soon that will provide funding for state and local governments to address revenue shortfalls. It is also expected to include an additional round of direct payments and more funding for Medicaid, nutritional benefits, and unemployment insurance. The Arc’s priorities for that measure are:
- Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce
- Personal protective equipment for DSPs
- Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities
- Economic impact payments for all people with disabilities, including adult dependents
On May 8, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Denny Heck (D-WA) announced the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020. The bill provides $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help keep the lowest-income renters stably housed during the COVID-19 crisis. The Arc supports this legislation.