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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Independent Living & The Rehabilitation Act

Kill the Tax Bill Over the Recess!

The House passed their tax bill yesterday, and the Senate is expected to vote on their bill when they return from recess. Congress will be back home until November 26, which means that local action is critical to prevent this terrible bill from becoming law!

The Senate’s tax bill is an unquestionable threat to the disability community. If this bill passes, disabled people will lose access to programs and services to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. People will lose their health care to help the rich get richer. This bill is an attack on our community, and it’s on us to ensure that it does not become law.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

When the Senate tried to decimate Medicaid and destroy the healthcare system, our community led this country to victory. Now, we need to come together and do it again! Over the recess, we must demand that our Senators commit to voting no on any bill that will pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by cutting programs people with disabilities depend on. Here are some of the ways you can take action.

  • Set up a meeting: Meet with your Senators in their local offices. Bring other disabled people so you can share your stories and tell them how harmful this bill will be for their constituents.
  • Talk to your Senators at local events: Is your Senator hosting a town hall? Are they making a showing at your town’s Thanksgiving Day parade? Use these events as an opportunity to approach your Senators and tell them why they need to oppose this bill.
  • Set up a protest: If your Senators won’t commit to opposing this bill, set up a protest at their offices! Coordinate with local ADAPT chapters and other disability activists and give them no other choice but to listen to your concerns.
  • Call your Senators: Continue to call your Senators DAILY and demand they vote no on this bill. Use the Senate Directory to find your Senator’s contact information or reach your Senators’ staff in DC by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Tweet at your Senators: Find their Twitter handles at Contacting Congress, and use the hashtag #TaxOnDisability.
  • Find other ways to contact your Senators: Fax your Senator (use faxzero.com to find your Senator’s fax number). Use Resistbot to have your texts turned into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters. And find your Senator’s email address, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress.

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Urgent Action Needed: Tell Your Representatives and Senators to Oppose the Terrible Tax Bill!

The House will take up their tax bill today, with a vote expected tomorrow! The Senate Finance Committee began marking up their bill earlier this week. These bills will lead to dangerous cuts to programs people with disabilities rely on. We need to stop them, and we need to take action now!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWhile there are differences between the House and Senate bills, both will provide tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations at our expense. Both bills significantly increase the federal deficit, which will lead to major cuts to the programs most important to disabled people – likely including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, housing, education, and more. And, the Senate just added a provision to their bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which the House will support when the bills are combined in conference. This means that on top of already terrible program cuts, millions more people will be uninsured and premiums will increase significantly.

Take Action Now!

Contact your Representatives AND Senators today and tell them you oppose their tax plan! Tell them that tax cuts for the wealthy should not be paid for by cutting the programs and services the rest of us rely on. Tell them that their bills will bring harm to people all over the country – including their own constituents! Congress is using their tax bill as a vehicle to make devastating cuts to programs AND as another chance to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We cannot let this happen!

Call your Representatives and Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can also find your Senator’s email address, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress[Read more…]

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Announces 2018 Funding Opportunity for Nonprofit Organizations that Create Opportunities and Independence for Individuals Living with Spinal Cord Injury

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is pleased to announce its 2018 funding opportunity for qualifying nonprofit organizations that strive to improve the quality of life of individuals living with or affected by spinal cord injury (SCI).

The Neilsen Foundation’s Creating Opportunities & Independence (CO&I) Project Grants are one-year grants, ranging from $25,000 – $100,000, targeting innovative approaches that empower individuals with SCI to live independently and enjoy improved emotional and physical well-being.

The funding priorities for CO&I will continue to support innovative projects to improve independence for individuals with spinal cord injury. The six areas of emphasis include: Assistive Technology, Employment, Independent Living, Rehabilitation, and Arts, Sports and Recreation. For the 2018 funding cycle, note that the definition of “Education” has been clarified as a means to promote the return to school/university following injury, education readiness, literacy interventions, GED courses and tutoring programs. Other educational activities used as a tool to advance employment, independent living or rehabilitation will reside in these respective areas of CO&I.  [Read more…]

NCIL Submits FOIA Request to ACL on Independent Living Cuts

Over the past several years, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) has made several funding cuts to Centers for Independent Living (CILs) around the country. NCIL has concerns about both the legality of these cuts and how they were determined.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAfter unsuccessful attempts to get a satisfactory explanation about why and how these cuts were made, NCIL has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for copies of all records pertaining to ACL’s Independent Living allotment determinations since 2015.

NCIL will continue to keep you updated as this situation progresses.

Information Alert: The FY 2018 Federal Budget

Congress has finished a budget resolution and it sets the stage for tax cuts, an increased deficit, and includes dangerous cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs critical to our independence.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe House plans to introduce a tax reform (cuts) bill this week as well and to send it to the Senate by Thanksgiving. Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. The budget resolution will increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion, and it assumes over $5 trillion in cuts to services over the next decade. With numbers like these, no programs are safe. Congress has shown us time and again that they are intent on slashing Medicaid, and unsurprisingly, their tax plan will provide them with the opportunity to do just that. The Senate budget calls for trillions of dollars in cuts to mandatory programs (which includes programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security). Much of the remainder will come from non-defense discretionary funding, which includes other programs we rely on like the Independent Living Program, housing assistance, and education. If this tax plan becomes law, people with disabilities, poor people, and other marginalized communities will be significantly harmed, while wealthy people and corporations reap the benefits.

We must be prepared to react – and to react quickly! Start preparing NOW. Gather stories demonstrating the value of CIL services. Gather data on the value of CIL services – the number of people diverted and transitioned from institutionalization – and the savings to your state because of these critical programs.

Invite Senators and Congressional Representatives to visit your CIL to see what you do.  [Read more…]

Information Alert: The FY 2018 Federal Budget

Yesterday night the Senate passed their FY 2018 budget resolution with a 51-49 vote. What comes next could have a big impact on our community, and will require us to once again ramp up our advocacy efforts. That’s because the main goal for this year’s budget is to set the stage for a major tax cut bill, which will increase the deficit and lead to dangerous cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs our lives and independence rely on.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe Senate budget resolution is a plan – not a law – so the budget itself doesn’t make changes to funding or the tax code. Rather, the budget resolution provides instructions that pave the way for Congress to pass their tax cut legislation using the reconciliation process, meaning it will only require a simple majority of votes. We’ve seen the GOP’s tax reform priorities (link below), and it’s clear that the Senate intends to use this process to pass tax cut legislation that will benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations while significantly increasing the federal deficit and negatively impacting everyone else.

Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. The budget resolution will increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion, and it assumes over $5 trillion in cuts to services over the next decade. With numbers like these, no programs are safe. Congress has shown us time and again that they are intent on slashing Medicaid, and unsurprisingly, their tax plan will provide them with the opportunity to do just that. The Senate budget calls for trillions of dollars in cuts to mandatory programs (which includes programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security). Much of the remainder will come from non-defense discretionary funding, which includes other programs we rely on like the Independent Living Program, housing assistance, and education. If this tax plan becomes law, people with disabilities, poor people, and other marginalized communities will be significantly harmed, while wealthy people and corporations reap the benefits.

Late-night changes to the budget resolution were intended to reconcile the Senate and House budgets, and the House is expected to vote on and pass the same budget next week. That said, the budget is just the first step. Our goal is to stop the tax bill that will lead to cuts to the programs people with disabilities need.

We will continue to monitor these efforts as they progress. We’ll continue to follow progress on the tax bill as well as appropriations, and we will keep you informed of any new developments. One thing is for sure: a plan that will result in trillions of dollars in cuts to the programs we rely on is not good for our country. But the disability community has demonstrated that we are powerful, and together, we will work to stop this.

For additional information:

New Video: Disability Advocates Improve Their Community for All

“Stoplights Don’t Stop Us!” tells the story of people with disabilities in Emporia, Kansas, who advocated for change in their community that enhanced their ability to participate. The video is also available with audio description.

The consumers carried out their work as part of a project conducted by the Research & Training Center on Community Living (RTCIL). The Building Capacity for Full Community Participation research team partnered with eight Centers for Independent Living around the country to provide CIL consumers with tools for making community change.

You can learn more about this process for making change in RTCIL’s free publication: Your Action Planning Guide for Promoting Full Community Participation Among People with Disabilities: A Resource for Independent Living Centers and Other Community-based Initiatives” (PDF).

NCIL Releases Disability Pride Toolkit

NCIL is pleased to announce the release of our Disability Pride Toolkit, which was developed by outgoing Youth Transitions Fellow Kings Floyd in collaboration with NCIL’s Youth Caucus.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThis toolkit is designed to help Youth Transitions Coordinators and Centers for Independent Living get started talking about disability pride within their local communities. While it is specifically targeted toward youth, the toolkit will be useful to advocates of any age.

The goal of the toolkit is to facilitate conversation about what it means to be proud of a disability identity as well as other intersectional identities. We encourage Centers for Independent Living and Statewide Independent Living Councils to start talking with youth in their communities about these topics, so that disability pride will be reflected in every aspect of the important work we accomplish together.

Please email hindley@ncil.org, current Youth Transitions Fellow, with any questions.

Independent Living Appropriations Update

With the deadline for the end of the fiscal year fast approaching, Congress passed and the President signed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded at current levels and suspend the debt ceiling through December 8, 2017. The legislation also provides $15.25 billion in emergency disaster relief funding.

This CR gives Congress additional time to work on their appropriations bills. That said, both the House and Senate have passed their Labor-HHS-Education (L-HHS-Ed) bills out of the Appropriations Committee. Both bills level fund the Independent Living program at $101,183,000, which includes $22,878,000 in Part B funding and $78,305,000 in Part C funding.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWhile level funding is far from what we need, we are very happy that neither the House nor the Senate accepted the President’s proposal to make cuts to the Independent Living program’s Part B funding to create his proposed “Partnerships for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence” (P3I). Both the House and the Senate included the exact same language in their reports, stating that they recognize the unique role played by each program (Statewide Independent Living Councils, State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and State Advisory Boards on Traumatic Brain Injury) and that consolidation would not serve the needs of people with disabilities. Thank you to everyone who spoke out against this proposal. Our collective action on this helped to avoid what would have been disastrous cuts.

Now Congress has until December 8, 2017 to finalize each of their 12 annual appropriations bills. While Congress has made significant progress on many of the individual spending bills, there are differences between House and Senate bills that will have to be reconciled. Further, if Congress does not raise the cap on discretionary funding that’s required under the Budget Control Act of 2011, sequestration will go into effect, resulting in across-the-board cuts that will severely impact the programs and services people with disabilities rely on, including the Independent Living Program. Read more about the history of the Budget Control Act and sequestration in a 2012 NCIL Action Alert.

We will continue to keep you updated as more information is available. You can review both the House and Senate’s bills and reports below.

Cancelled: Building an Inclusive Statewide Independent Living Council

Cancellation Notice: Building an Inclusive Statewide Independent Living Council

We are sorry to announce that the upcoming teleconference and webinar, “Building an Inclusive Statewide Independent Living Council” has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule this event, but because we are unable to confirm a new date and time, we have decided to cancel the event for now. We will provide a full refund to everyone who registered to attend.

Originally scheduled for: September 13, 2017; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

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