Senate committee moves key funding bill

U.S. Capitol buildingA major part of my job at Easter Seals is working with Congress to assure that funding for federal programs supporting people with disabilities remains strong. As you can imagine, the last few years working on this issue have been intense as our nation’s fiscal pressures have increased. So, when a little bit of good news broke last week, I thought I would take to the blog to tell you about it.

Last week the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill. The measure is heading to the full Senate for its consideration.

I am pleased to report that overall, programs serving people with disabilities fared well. Some could even receive small increases — notably: early intervention (+$20 million). Other programs slated for increases include special education (+$100 million), Head Start (+$70 million), child care (+$160 million) and Lifespan Respite (+2.5 million).

I know that the several thousand messages that Easter Seals supporters sent to Congress helped make this happen. The House has not yet crafted its bill (and final action on this legislation is not expected before the fall) but this is a great first step.

While we have a hard road ahead, and this is likely to be the high-water mark, we need to call attention to good things when they happen. A big thank you to all of you that weighed in with Congress and asked them to support these programs. I would also like to thank the Senators, particularly Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who crafted this bill and showed that we can work within tight budget controls without harming people with disabilities. There is much more to come in this process, so please visit our Web site regularly to follow the progress.


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