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What's Happening in Washington

Older Americans Act Reauthorization

On Thursday, April 7, 2016, the United States Senate unanimously passed legislation renewing the Older Americans Act. The House had previously passed the bill on Monday, March 21, 2016. President Obama signed the legislation on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

The Older Americans Act is a critical piece of legislation that authorizes supportive services for older adults through Area Agencies on Aging, family caregiver supports, nutrition programs and the Senior Community Service Employment Programs (SCSEP). Easter Seals has worked for many years to achieve this milestone and over 1,000 Easter Seals supporters weighed in with Congress calling for passage of reauthorization.

The final bill includes many provisions championed by Easter Seals, including:

Easter Seals applauds the passage of this important legislation.

Advocacy: Our Voices Are Heard!

Thank you to thousands of Easter Seals advocates for contacting their Members of Congress on important issues that ensure people with disabilities, children, veterans, and older Americans get the services they need. Sign up here to receive Easter Seals advocacy alerts.

How President Obama's Final Budget Affects People with Disabilities

On February 9, President Barack Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins on October 1, 2016. Easter Seals worked hard to make sure that the White House and federal agencies prioritized people with disabilities. While many programs were level funded from the previous year, there were some successes in the proposal including increased funding for:

Easter Seals appreciates the urgency for the federal government to be fiscally responsible and to strengthen our national economy. At the same time, we know that people with disabilities disproportionately rely on government services to live, learn and work in their communities. These services were created by government because the private market place would not meet the unique needs of people with disabilities. We will continue to work with Congress to help them make smart decisions about the real needs of people with disabilities as the final 2017 spending bills are developed.

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

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, February 2016 (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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