On February 25, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the EMPOWER Care Act (S.548, H.R.1342), which extends the Money Follows the Person Program (MFP) through 2023. 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. See the action alert.
On February 28, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which expands Medicare to cover all residents. It also eliminates all out-of-pocket costs for all benefits except prescription drugs and expands benefits to include long term services and supports (LTSS), among other things. The Arc supports including provisions to address the need for LTSS in any comprehensive health reform proposal.
On February 28, Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced bills (H.R.1434 and S.634) to provide a 100% federal tax credit for donations to organizations that provide scholarships for private schools. The Arc opposes this bill because schools accepting scholarships indirectly supported by the tax credit are not 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 choice.
On January 29, Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced two bills related to employment for people with disabilities. The first bill, the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (S.260), will phase out 14(c) subminimum wage certificates over six years and provides grants for technical assistance and provider transformation.
The second, the Disability Employment Incentives Act (S.255), increases three tax credits for employers. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides incentives for businesses that hire people referred by vocational rehabilitation, or who are on Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, would be increased from $2,400 to $5,000. The Disability Access Expenditures Tax Credit will be increased from $5,000 to $10,000. The Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit will be increased from $15,000 to $30,000.
On February 7, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2019 (S.427, H.R.1058). The Autism CARES Act funds autism research, surveillance, and education programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
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.
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.
Two bills were introduced on January 3 to fund private school education at the federal level. The first, S.5, provides a federal tax credit for private school tuition. The second, H.R. 69, allows parents to take federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I funding to a public or private school of their choice. The Arc opposes these bills as they do not maintain the accountability and civil rights protections that students with disabilities have in public schools. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.
On November 26, Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Ways and Means Committee, introduced a tax bill. The measure has five main elements: technical corrections to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA); extension of 26 tax breaks (such as credits for biodiesel fuel and regional railroads); an overhaul of the Internal Revenue Service; tax breaks for disaster area residents; and retirement savings provisions. It is estimated to cost $53 billion over 10 years. Since the measure requires 60 votes in the Senate to pass, it is not expected to advance. Some Members of Congress have stated their opposition to making technical corrections to the TCJA unless other provisions that benefit the very wealthy and encourage corporate offshoring are changed.
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced the “Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018” (S. 3612). The bill would expand the Fair Housing Act’s protections to prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income or veteran status. Under the bill, source of income includes a Section 8 housing voucher or other form of federal, state, or local housing assistance; Social Security or Supplemental Security Income; income received by court order, including spousal support and child support; and payment from a trust, guardian, or conservator. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The Arc strongly supports this legislation.