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

Urgent Action Alert: Rehab Act Hearing & NCIL Strategy

ILA protest sign 2011Let the advocacy begin! This is the opportunity that we have been seeking for years, and the time has come for a massive final push to reauthorize the Rehabilitation Act this summer. Reauthorization of this bill is Independent Living’s most important priority, and NCIL is calling upon our members to contribute your valuable advocacy and be involved in a way that we have not asked for in years. It is time to get a favorable bill out of the Senate, including an Independent Living Administration (ILA). The first step is to let everyone know about a hearing coming up this Thursday regarding reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which contains the Rehabilitation Act. We encourage all of our members in the DC area to attend this hearing, and NCIL will be sure to update our members outside of the DC area about what happened. Here are the hearing details:

The reauthorization process for the Rehabilitation Act looks like it will move fairly quickly, with perhaps the most important action taking place around the time of the 2013 NCIL Annual Conference. The most important contribution to this reauthorization effort that we can ask is for our members to be in Washington, DC for the Conference in the name of advocacy and solidarity. We need our members here making visits to the Hill and participating in action that will give us the final push that we need.

We know that budgets are tight for CILs and individual members across the country. Budgets are also tight for NCIL, and we have been in the process of taking steps to tighten our belt due to the rough economy that has affected Centers and individuals alike. However, our push this summer for the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act and increased funding for Independent Living is also the fight for struggling CILs to keep their doors open, and continue the incredible work that is being done all over the nation. The work in Washington is not easy either, and if we fail in our efforts this summer it will be painful to look upon ourselves and take notice of the missing advocates within our ranks that could have been standing with us in the fight for our most important cause. 

We need you in Washington this summer. The future of Independent Living is at stake, and we cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We need our members to make the commitment to participate in the NCIL conference, and sincerely encourage you to take a look at the Conference details and find a way to be here this year. There are valuable workshops and resources that Conference participants will bring home to their Centers, in addition to the meaningful contribution to the nation they will leave behind in Washington.

2013 NCIL Annual Conference Details

We encourage our members to look at the Rehabilitation Act Talking Points that NCIL has created. Our strategy involves convincing members on the Senate HELP Committee to pass a version of the bipartisan draft WIA bill that was created in the last Congress, which contains an ILA. We are asking that our members begin to contact these senators, and if neither one of your senators are listed, to contact a neighboring state. Here is the list of senators that we are targeting:

Senators on the HELP Committee:

Democrats by Rank

  • Tom Harkin (IA)
  • Barbara A. Mikulski (MD)
  • Patty Murray (WA)
  • Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
  • Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA)
  • Kay R. Hagan (NC)
  • Al Franken (MN)
  • Michael F. Bennet (CO)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
  • Tammy Baldwin (WI)
  • Christopher S. Murphy (CT)
  • Elizabeth Warren (MA)

Republicans by Rank

  • Lamar Alexander (TN)
  • Michael B. Enzi (WY)
  • Richard Burr (NC)
  • Johnny Isakson (GA)
  • Rand Paul (KY)
  • Orrin G. Hatch (UT)
  • Pat Roberts (KS)
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK)
  • Mark Kirk (IL)
  • Tim Scott (SC)

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