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What's Happening in Washington

Congress Approves Federal Funding Through December 9, 2016

Ahead of its September 30, 2016 fiscal year-end deadline, Congress adopted legislation, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to stave off a potential government shutdown. The stopgap spending bill was signed by President Obama on Thursday, September 29, 2016. It continues all federal programs through December 9, 2016 and applies a small across-the-board cut. Congress will still need to take action by December 9th on a full-year funding proposal for all federal programs when they return to Washington after the elections.

Thank you to those Easterseals advocates who contacted their Members of Congress and urged them to fully fund the federal government and vital programs for people with disabilities, children, older Americans, veterans, and caregivers.

Continuing Resolution includes funding to combat Zika virus 

The continuing resolution (CR) includes $1.1 billion in response to the Zika virus including funds to advance vaccine and diagnostic research, as well as provide support for local mosquito control. Resources continue to be desperately needed to bolster prevention efforts and to respond to the local threat of transmission of Zika. The expected increase in the birthrate of children with microcephaly, and also adults that may be diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome, a paralyzing disease, is going to require on-going support and assistance for the individuals, their families and their communities.

Thank you to the thousands of Easterseals and health organization advocates who contacted their Members of Congress and urged them to fully fund the federal Zika virus effort.

Tell Congress: Fund Programs Serving People with Disabilities

While the continuing resolution funds federal programs through December 9, 2016, please continue to tell your Members of Congress to increase funding for the vital programs that empower people with disabilities:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant Program (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Supported Employment State Grant Program (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Senior Community Service Employment Program (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Head Start (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • IDEA Parts B and C (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Maternal and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

It is important that the federal government be fiscally responsible. At the same time, we know that people with disabilities disproportionately rely on government services to live, learn, work and play in their communities. These services were created by government because the private market place would not meet the unique needs of people with disabilities. Federal services and supports for people with disabilities must remain in place and strong.

The Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act

Being a caregiver can be enormously rewarding -- but it can be physically and emotionally draining as well. That's why it's important for caregivers to seek occasional respite from their responsibilities. Whether it's for a few hours a week to run errands or a few weeks a year to take a much-needed vacation, respite care lets caregivers maintain their own health, bolster family stability, keep marriages intact, and avoid or delay more costly nursing home or foster care placements.

In 2006, Congress passed legislation to coordinate and enhance respite services for people of all ages and disabilities. Since 2009, funding has helped people in 33 states get access to and information about respite services.

It is time for Congress to renew this small but important program. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island) and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Mississippi) have introduced "The Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2015" (H.R. 3913).

Ensure Veterans with Disabilities Get the Support They Need at Home

Easterseals supports new legislation (H.R. 1843) that would help ensure the men and women who were injured while serving our nation in the U.S. military have full access to the benefits they have earned and the local supports and services they may need to successfully reintegrate into their communities.

Your voice needs to be heard in the U.S. House of Representative to help grow support of H.R. 1843 to help connect veterans with disabilities to local supportive services. You can also use this opportunity to thank co-sponsors of the bill.

Current Legislative Alerts: Take Action!

Each day, decisions are being made in Washington, D.C., that will affect people with disabilities and Easterseals' ability to provide services to them, as well as to meet Easterseals' mission today and for years to come. The unmet needs of people with disabilities will continue to go unaddressed if Easterseals is not engaged in educating public policy makers about people with disabilities' disproportionate reliance on government for health, education, employment, transportation and other needed services. Sign up to receive Easterseals advocacy alerts.

Public Policy Priorities for the 115th Congress (2017-2018)

People with disabilities and Easterseals have a significant stake in government programs. For many children and adults with disabilities, their ability to get an education, earn a living and live independently in the community is dictated by the availability of services and supports, many of which come only from the federal government.

Funding History of Federal Disability Programs, July 2016 (PDF*)

This chart, developed by Easterseals Office of Public Affairs, tracks the funding history of federal disability programs. The chart divides the information by agency, listing underneath each agency specific programs that matter to children and adults with disabilities.

Legislative Landmarks

Easterseals has been active in public policy advocacy since our founder, Edgar Allen, lobbied the Ohio Legislature to fund appropriate services for children with disabilities in the 1920s. We continue to actively support and promote federal legislation that helps people with disabilities achieve independence.

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