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What's Happening in Washington

Your Voice Has Been Heard; The Disability Treaty Is Coming Up for a Vote!

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by a bipartisan vote of 12-6 on July 22, 2014. Now we have to get two-thirds of the entire Senate to vote for the disability treaty when it comes up for a vote as early as next week. It is critical that we keep the pressure on.

Senators need to hear from their constituents that we need to maintain America’s leadership in the world on disability rights and we need to participate in the CRPD so the good progress we have made here under the Americans with Disabilities Act can spread to other countries. 

Help us secure all the votes to ratify this important treaty this year! We are SO close.

President Signs Easter Seals-Supported Job Training Bill

On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), an Easter Seals-supported bill that updates the U.S. job training and employment system, including the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program and other employment services for people with disabilities. President Obama said the bipartisan legislation will help ensure every American has skills to fill open jobs and made special note about new initiatives included in the legislation “for Americans with disabilities who want to live and work independently.” 

Katy Beh Neas, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for Easter Seals, Inc., attended the invitation-only White House ceremony, which included key congressional leaders that Easter Seals worked with to help write key provisions of WIOA. “I was pleased to represent Easter Seals today at the White House to witness President Obama sign into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” said Neas. “Today is a historic day in helping people with disabilities access the services and supports they need to find jobs. Easter Seals affiliates, staff and supporters should feel proud of their role in making this important legislation a reality.”

The legislation was overwhelmingly approved in the United States House of Representatives (415-6) and the United States Senate (95-3). Easter Seals was instrumental throughout the legislative process in development and passage of WIOA – from writing key legislative provisions to preserve employment options and promote employment outcomes for people with disabilities to our Easter Seals affiliates and supporters engaging with their Members of Congress at critical junctures throughout the year to lend their support for the legislation."Final congressional action on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act comes at a time when individuals with disabilities face double digit unemployment (12.9% in June 2014) and when less than two in 10 individuals with disabilities are participating in the labor force," said Katy Beh Neas, Senior Vice President for Government Relations at Easter Seals, Inc. "The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the recent federal contractor hiring goals set earlier this year could represent major game-changers in helping to increase employment for people with disabilities. Easter Seals commends the United States House of Representatives for approving and advancing this critical legislation."


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.

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.

Public Policy Priorities for the 113th 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, January 2014 (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.

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