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

Senators Harkin & Alexander Release Joint Bipartisan Statement on the Rehabilitation Act

The U.S. Senate has released a historic memo regarding NCIL’s highest priority, reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act and the establishment of an Independent Living Administration (ILA). Specifically, the offices of Senators Harkin and Alexander issued a statement highlighting significant Independent Living provisions within the legislation.

S. 1356, a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and its contained Rehabilitation Act was formally introduced on Tuesday. We need our members to take action now by contacting Senators on the HELP Committee to make sure that this bill goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

The most important change to existing law is the establishment of an ILA, and the transfer of the Independent Living program from the Department of Education (ED) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Administration for Community Living (ACL). The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) will also be moved to ACL and renamed the National Institute on Disability and Independent Living Research (NIDILR).

The bipartisan joint statement acknowledged that “We know the importance of the Independent Living program to provide services to individuals with disabilities to maximize their independence and ability to participate fully in all aspects of American society. This move builds on the positive work by Secretary Sebelius to create integrated, comprehensive programs that serve individuals with disabilities so these programs are more effective and have greater impact in the day to day lives of the people they serve.”

NCIL continues to work with the Senate HELP Committee on S. 1356, and is very pleased and grateful for the amount of thought and hard work that went into creating this legislation and pushing the reauthorization process forward. We will continue to update our members as this bill makes its way through the Senate. 

Below is a list of Senators on the HELP Committee that need to be contacted at their local offices. Even if you don’t have a senator on this list, we are urging you to contact one in a neighboring state, asking them to pass S. 1356 out of committee. We need our members to call this week; there will be no second chances. We have come this far, now is our moment, and we must act immediately.

Senators on the HELP Committee:

Democrats by Rank

Republicans by Rank

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