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What's Happening in Washington

FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

After passing several continuing resolutions that continued federal funding past its original September 30 deadline, Congress finally passed an omnibus appropriations bill on Friday, December 18, 2015. President Obama signed the appropriations bill into law later that same day.

The bill funds the many important federals programs and supports that serve people with disabilities, older Americans, young children, service members and veterans, caregivers, and families through October 1, 2016. The final omnibus spending bill also includes an extension and expansion of the Easter Seals-supported Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for businesses who hire people with disabilities, veterans, and other populations with barriers to employment.

Thank you to the over 2,100 Easter Seals supporters who wrote their Members of Congress urging them to prioritize federal programs that people with disabilities rely upon in the FY2016 appropriations.

Easter Seals applauds passage of Every Student Succeeds Act

On Thursday, December 10, 2015, Easter Seals staff witnessed President Barack Obama sign the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law at the White House. This new law replaces No Child Left Behind and updates the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time since 2001. Three key Easter Seals priorities are included in the new law. First, the law establishes a cap on the number of students with disabilities who are taken off track from a standard high school diploma. The law requires states to address the use of restraint and seclusion practices and also expands funding for early education services.

People with Disabilities and Easter Seals will Benefit from Major Transportation Legislation

On Thursday, December 3, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate both passed a bipartisan agreement that will guide all federal transportation programs for the next five years. President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law on Friday, December 4, 2015.

Easter Seals made significant contributions to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). Several provisions of particular importance to people with disabilities include:

  • Significant growth in overall transit funding as people with disabilities disproportionately rely on public transit, so investment in strengthening this sector is critical;
  • Federal Transit technical assistance activities, including the Easter Seals-led National Aging and Disability Transiting Center, are continued with more stable funding than was previously available;
  • New funding for a demonstration program in the Section 5310 program that will allow states to work with local service providers to test new approaches to providing transportation for people with disabilities and older adults;
  • Incentives for local transit agencies to improve their ADA paratransit programs to better serve people with disabilities; and
  • Renewed efforts to better coordinate all federal transportation programs that serve people with disabilities.

Thank you to the hundreds of advocates who wrote to their Members of Congress in support of funding transportation services for older Americans and people with disabilities.

Senate votes to reauthorize the Older Americans Act

The population of older adults needing Older Americans Act services is growing faster than at any time in the country’s history as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. However, just when the need is highest, funding for these critical services is in jeopardy.

Now in its 50th year, the Older Americans Act (OAA) provides services to help millions of seniors every year with health, independence and dignity in their homes and communities. Congress must ensure that programs older Americans depend on to stay healthy and independent are there for the next 50 years.

UPDATE: On Thursday, July 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed reauthorization. Please ask your Representatives to update and fund the Older Americans Act.

Ensure Veterans with Disabilities Get the Support They Need at Home

Easter Seals 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 Easter Seals' ability to provide services to them, as well as to meet Easter Seals' mission today and for years to come. The unmet needs of people with disabilities will continue to go unaddressed if Easter Seals 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 Easter Seals advocacy alerts.

Public Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress

People with disabilities and Easter Seals 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, December 2015 (PDF*)

This chart, developed by Easter Seals 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

Easter Seals 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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