Justice For All

                     Congressional Update

The Arc Capitol Insider

November 20, 2000, Volume 5, Issue 46


* Members of Congress returned Monday and Tuesday for the beginning of a lame-duck session, but decided to put off work on the big issues until after Thanksgiving.   Blaming the distraction of the as yet undecided presidential election, the House and Senate passed a 16th continuing resolution to keep the government agencies without appropriations running until Dec. 5.   Congress recessed for a three- week Thanksgiving holiday beginning on Nov. 14. The House is scheduled to return on Dec. 4 and the Senate on Dec. 5.

* House and Senate leaders and the White House continue to negotiate on the remaining hot issues.  These include the Medicare give-back bill, a tax-cut bill, and a number of FY 2001 appropriations bills, including the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill, that funds many programs of importance to The Arc.  The bipartisan Family Opportunity Act still is one of The Arc goals that is still alive and kicking because it is a bipartisan bill that also has the support of the Administration.

* House Democrats and Republicans reelected their leaders last week.  Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) will remain as Speaker with Rep. Armey (T-TX) as Majority Leader and, Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) as Majority Whip.  Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) will remain Minority Leader, with Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) as Minority Whip.

* Democrats and Republicans also ceremoniously welcomed the newly-elected Members of Congress and held orientation activities.  There are 28 Republican and 13 Democratic freshmen in the new 107th Congress so far. The outcome of several congressional races are still awaiting recounts and mail-in ballots.

* The Older Americans Act was signed into law on Nov. 13.  This new law authorizes the establishment of the National Family Caregivers Program.  This program provides grants to states for support services including information, counseling, and respite care.  One of the priority groups targeted are elderly parents of adults with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities.

* The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA) Advisory Panel met for three days in Washington, DC last week. This panel advises the SSA Commissioner, the President and Congress on TWWIIA implementation.  The Arc participated all three days.  Marty Ford testified on four topics at the meeting, including: who gets a ticket; qualifications of employment networks; design of outcome and milestone payment methods; and TWWIIA implementation.   The next meeting  of the panel takes place on Jan. 9 and 10.

* Marty Ford participated in a meeting of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and University Affiliated Programs (UAP) regarding the assessment of children in the SSI program.  The purpose of the meeting is for the UAPs to assist SSA in studying how to assess children for purposes of eligibility in the Supplemental Security Income program.

* On Nov. 13 President Clinton signed into law S. 1865, a bill that establishes a national mental health courts demonstration program for nonviolent offenders with mental retardation and severe mental illnesses. The bill provides grants to states and municipalities to establish up to 100 mental health courts throughout the nation.

* The U.S. Dept. of Labor has awarded work incentives grants to 23 states to expand the ability of One Stop Career Centers to deliver services to people with disabilities.  States receiving the work incentives grants are: AK, CA, FL, IL, IN, IA, LA, MN, MD, MA, MI, MO, MT, NH, NM, OH, OR, PA, RI, TN, TX,  VT, and WA.