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

Action Alert: Oppose the Proposed Independent Living Changes in the President’s Budget

Last week we sent out an information alert with information about cuts and harmful proposed changes to the Independent Living (IL) Program in the President’s 2021 Budget.

As a reminder, the budget includes a $7.5 million cut to Part B funding. It also includes a $5 million increase to Part C funding, but those funds are reserved for competitive employment grants.

Importantly, there are also three legislative proposals related to the IL Program:

  • The first proposal would allow funds currently appropriated for training and technical assistance (T/TA) to be used for program evaluation and performance measurement.
  • The second proposal would remove the requirement for any reviews of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to be conducted onsite.
  • The final proposal would allow the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to stop contracting out for T/TA.

All three proposals are bad ideas and would all harm the IL Program. Regarding the first proposal, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) states that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shall ensure the Independent Living Administration (ILA) has sufficient resources to provide technical assistance, support, and oversight. If ILA leadership does not believe they have sufficient funds to carry out their responsibilities, they should be asking for more funding rather than reallocating funding from one important duty to another.

Regarding the second proposal, this would mean that there would no longer be a requirement for any reviews to be conducted onsite. We strongly believe that this change would undermine effective compliance reviews for CILs.

Regarding the final proposal, this would allow funding for CIL/SILC T/TA to be used by ACL to provide direct T/TA, rather than for them to award grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements. This would allow ACL to no longer fund IL-NET and to use the funds internally instead. Current law requires that T/TA include people who are not government employees and have experience in the operation of CILs (for CIL T/TA) and SILCs (for SILC T/TA). This is a key requirement to ensure that the entities conducting T/TA are effective – and if anything, ACL should be contracting out more money, not less.

Finally, regarding the funding cut, this proposed cut would also harm the IL Program considerably. The IL Program was level funded in fiscal year 2020, and cuts would be detrimental. For several years now, NCIL has been advocating for a $200 million increase for the IL line item. The IL Program has been woefully underfunded for decades, and significant increases are needed to effectively carry out the additional core services required by WIOA, offset inflation and the cost of operations, and to strengthen the Independent Living Program. Cutting the IL line item by any amount would jeopardize the important work CILs around the country are carrying out day in and day out.

Take Action!

We’ve compiled a list of members of Congress who serve on relevant committees.

If your members of Congress are on this list, contact them and tell them you oppose the cuts to the Independent Living Program and these dangerous legislative proposals!

All members of Congress can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can find your Senators’ direct phone number and contact form at senate.gov and your Representative’s direct number and contact form at house.gov/representatives.

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