The Politics of Autism discusses legislation before Congress.
Budget and Appropriations
Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky will likely take the helm of the Budget Committee. This committee has jurisdiction over the budget resolution. The change likely means the budget will not be used to force changes to important programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Yarmuth has said he hopes to mark up a fiscal 2020 budget resolution that will reflect Democratic spending priorities such as infrastructure, education, job training, and clean energy.
Rep. Nita Lowey of New York is slated to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee. This committee decides where the money allocated from the Budget Resolution will be used to fund specific programs. The Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education will be chaired by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. This committee has jurisdiction over spending decisions most autism and other disability programs.
Energy and Commerce/Health Care
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey is in line to be the next chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee currently led by Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon. This Committee works on important issues like health care, including Medicaid. Under the leadership of Pallone, the House will push back on any attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act or to make cuts to Medicaid; and could introduce bills to strengthen the ACA marketplaces and begin reviewing bills to provide universal health care. Rep. Pallone is also the author of a bill to provide long-term care to seniors and people with disabilities that may now get attention by the committee. This committee will also be responsible for reauthorizing the Autism CARES Act, one of the Autism Society’s biggest priorities for 2019 when the law is set to expire.
Ways and Means
The Chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee will likely be Richard Neil of Massachusetts. This committee is responsible for tax and some health care programs. It is unclear at this time what tax bills will be considered. On health, top priorities include shoring up the Affordable Care Act exchanges and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. The retirement of Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-MI), opens up the top spot on the Health Subcommittee. California Rep. Mike Thompson is currently the panel’s most senior member and likely to take that seat.
Education and the Workforce
Rep. Robert Scott of Virginia is expected to chair the Education and Workforce Committee. This committee will be responsible for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and any other education and employment bills. Scott authored an HEA bill (AIM Higher Act) that would promote the inclusion of students with autism. This committee will also likely to take up a bill to reduce the use of restraints and seclusion in schools. Bipartisan bills in development related to increasing opportunities for competitive, integrated employment may also be considered in this committee in the new Congress. Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina is expected to remain on the committee as the ranking minority member.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York is poised to become the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee. This committee has jurisdiction over our civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nadler was an opponent of HR 620, a bill that would weaken the ADA.