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

Independent Living & The Rehabilitation Act

Tax Bill Passes Senate: Fight Moves Back to the House!

THANK YOU to everyone who has taken action to fight the GOP’s tax bills. In the very early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate voted to pass their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Every Republican except one voted for the bill, with no Democratic support.

This is bad news, but it’s not over yet. The House now needs to decide whether they will work with the Senate to reconcile the differences between the two bills by going to conference, or they can forego that process and vote on the Senate version – and this can happen as early as today!

A NCIL member holds a sign that reads "People Not Profits" at the 2017 Annual Conference on Independent LivingThe fate of this bill is in our Representatives’ hands. It is vital that they hear from you today! Take Action Now!

  • Find your Representative’s number at Contacting Congress or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Use Resistbot to turn your text into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters.
  • Fax your Representative (use faxzero.com to find their fax number).
  • Email, post on Facebook, or Tweet your Representative with information on Contacting Congress.

Tell them:

  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will significantly increase premiums and 13 million fewer people will have insurance.
  • Increasing the deficit by over $1 trillion sets the stage for slashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs disabled people rely on.
  • By triggering the “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) Budget Rule, this bill will automatically force billions in cuts – and in some cases, total elimination – to essential programs including Medicare and Vocational Rehabilitation basic State grants.

Everyone should call their Representatives today, but there some Representatives that have been identified as high priority targets. If you live in these states, or if you know people who do, please make sure they are contacted!  [Read more…]

Keep Fighting the Tax Bill and Participate in Today’s National Call-In Day!

The Senate is getting closer to passing their dangerous tax bill, with a vote expected as early as Thursday. We have a very short window to stop this bill from passing, so immediate action is critical!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

  • Participate in the National CallIn Day! Wednesday, November 29 is a national disability community call-in day. You can find more information at the Facebook event. Please participate in the event and share it with your networks!
  • Keep calling your Senators! Keep calling your Senators DAILY until they commit to voting no on the tax bill! You can find your Senators’ numbers at Contacting Congress or you can reach them by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Other ways to contact your Senators: Use Resistbot to have your texts turned into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters. Fax your Senator (use faxzero.com to find your Senator’s fax number). And find your Senator’s email address, Facebook page, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress.
  • Get others involved! Educate your family and friends about why this tax bill is so harmful to disabled people. Share the National Call-In Day’s Facebook event, and post information on social media using the hashtag #TaxOnDisability.

This bill would be devastating to people with disabilities. It would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which would result in significant premium increases and 13 million fewer people having insurance. It would cause a massive $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit, which would set the stage for slashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs. Additionally, the increase to the deficit would trigger the “Pay-As-You-Go” Budget Rule (PAYGO), which would automatically force billions of dollars in cuts to essential mandatory programs, including $25 billion in cuts to Medicare and the potential elimination of Vocational Rehabilitation basic State grants. This bill would harm our community in countless ways, with hundreds of billions of dollars being snatched away from programs we need and handed over to the people who need it the least. Read about our additional concerns with the House version. For additional information, see our two previous alerts:

Right now, one thing is for sure: Congress plans to provide tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of everyone else, and disabled people will be hit hard. If this bill passes, the rich will become richer, and we’ll foot the bill. The Senate’s tax bill is an attack on the disability community, and it’s on us to stop it! Take action!

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.

[Read more…]

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.

Death and Taxes: Dangerous Tax Reform Bill Introduced – Take Action Now!

Last week House Republicans unveiled their tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (PDF). Their bill makes major changes to the U.S. Tax Code, giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy while ultimately harming the rest of the country. Not only will the tax bill directly harm disabled and poor people, but it will also increase the national deficit by at least $1.5 trillion, setting the stage for major cuts to Medicaid and other essential programs that will bring even more harm to our community.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

Congress is trying to use the same fast-track process they tried to use on healthcare, and we must stop this bill before it gets to the Senate! If this tax plan becomes law, wealthy people and corporations will become richer, while people with disabilities, poor people, and other marginalized communities foot the bill. We must stop this! Call your Representatives by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) today! See below for more details about the bill.

Background: While the tax bill is full of permanent tax cuts that will benefit wealthy people and corporations, everyone else will see little or no benefit. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that the bill would raise taxes for nearly 13 million people earning less than $100,000 a year. There is no doubt that disabled and low-income individuals will be harmed by this bill.  [Read more…]

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).