On September 23, Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced the National Coronavirus Commission Act (S.4666 / H.R.8358). This bill creates a non-partisan commission to assess the nation’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to make recommendations to improve readiness in the future. The commission has a specific charge to review the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. The Arc supports this legislation. See The Arc’s statement.
On July 22, Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the School Choice Now Act (S. 4282). This bill would provide a federal tax credit for donations to organizations that provide scholarships for private schools. Additionally, the bill creates a one-time appropriation to scholarship-granting organizations. The Arc opposes this bill because schools accepting scholarships indirectly supported by the tax credit will not be required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school vouchers.
On October 15, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the College Affordability Act (H.R.4674). This bill provides federal funding to states that provide free community college education, increases Pell grants, and makes various improvements to student loan programs, among other things. Additionally, it contains a provision requiring colleges to accept an individualized education plan or a 504 plan as evidence of a disability when a student is seeking accommodations. Learn more from the Committee on Education and Labor website. The Arc supports this legislation.
On September 11, Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and 20 other co-sponsors reintroduced the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act of 2019 (H.R.4280). The bill would update and enhance the SSI program by updating the general earned income disregard to $123 per month, updating the earned income disregard to $399 per month, and updating the resource limits to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a couple. Congress has not adjusted these limits in many years. In addition, the SSI Restoration Act would repeal SSI’s in-kind support and maintenance provisions as well as penalties for resource transfers, marriage, and state tax credits. The Arc strongly supports the SSI Restoration Act.
On June 18, Representatives Richard Neal (D-MA) and Michael San Nicolas (D-GU) introduced the Economic Mobility Act of 2019 (H.R.3300). This bill makes various improvements to the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and dependent care assistance, most of which last for two years. Additionally, it repeals a provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that imposes a tax on non-profit organizations that provide transportation benefits to their employees.
On June 4, Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Kim Schrier (D-WA) introduced the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act (H.R.3086). The Senate version, S.1585, was introduced in late May. This bill would require institutions of higher education to accept a student’s individualized education plan (IEP), 504 plan, or prior evaluation as sufficient proof of disability. Additionally, it requires institutions to provide transparent information regarding the process of determining eligibility for disability services and to disseminate the information in an accessible format. It also requires institutions to report information on the number of students with disabilities served, their outcomes, and the accommodations provided. The Arc supports this legislation.
On June 13, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the 21st Century Assistive Technology Act (S.1835). This bill reauthorizes the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, which was passed to increase awareness and access to assistive technology. The proposed reauthorization clarifies that the program serves all people with disabilities, including those who develop disabilities later in life, and increases funding for programs serving rural areas. The Arc supports the 21st Century Assistive Technology Act.
On June 13, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Access to Free Speech for All Act (S.1836). This bill seeks to ensure that all individuals with significant disabilities affecting communication have access to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, services, and supports. It would create five training, technical assistance, and research centers focused on AAC. The Arc supports the Access to Free Speech for All Act.
On June 3, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Customized Approaches to Providing and Building Independent Lives of Inclusion for Transition-aged Youth (CAPABILITY) Act of 2019 (H.R.3070). This bill creates competitive grants for six states to develop pre-employment transition services for people with I/DD that comply with requirements for competitive integrated employment. The Arc supports H.R.3070.
On May 22, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act (S.1585). This bill would require institutions of higher education to accept a student’s individualized education plan (IEP), 504 plan, or prior evaluation as sufficient proof of disability. Additionally, it requires institutions to provide transparent information regarding the process of determining eligibility for disability services and to disseminate the information in an accessible format. It also requires institutions to report information on the number of students with disabilities served, their outcomes, and the accommodations provided. The Arc supports this legislation.