"In the year ahead, several key national disability policy legislative initiatives will reach major benchmarks"
On Wednesday July 9, the House of Representatives passed the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) following Senate passage of the same by a vote of 95-3 on June 25. The measure was approved by a vote of 415 to 6, with 11 abstaining. WIOA now heads to President Obama's desk for his signature. The President has indicated he will sign the bill into law.
WIOA is bipartisan legislation intended to improve the nation's workforce development system and includes a specific expectation of competitive, integrated employment of youth and adults with disabilities. Once signed, it will replace the 1998 Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and continue the incorporation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in the nation's broader workforce policy.
Additionally, WIOA contains a provision which would alter and reduce the configuration of the National Council on Disability (NCD) from 15 Presidentially-appointed members to five Presidentially-appointed members and four Congressionally-appointed members.
The first of the changes is set to take effect in September 2014 when the terms of four Council Members expire. Under the new NCD provision in WIOA, those four Members will be replaced by appointments made by the Senate Majority Leader; the Senate Minority Leader; the Speaker of the House; and the House Minority Leader. The next six Council members, whose terms will begin to expire in September 2015, will not be replaced, reducing NCD membership to nine.
WIOA also authorizes a minor increase in NCD's future appropriations.
For 35 years, NCD has been a small, powerful voice within the federal government for what now is estimated at over 56 million people with disabilities in the United States - reflecting the breadth and diversity of the community itself - for all disabilities, regardless of type or severity; for all ages, cradle to grave; for all races and ethnicities; and for all disability policy areas.
In the year ahead, several key national disability policy legislative initiatives will reach major benchmarks: IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) will be 40 years old; and the ADA will be 25 years old. And NCD still awaits Senate ratification of the CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). A veritable legislative revolution has occurred during this short period.
Even still, much ground has yet to be covered. In each instance, NCD has played a critical role in preserving and strengthening protections of the ADA and many other important civil rights laws. NCD will continue to serve our diverse constituency to the best of our abilities and resources, regardless of composition and size. The Council is also prepared to make whatever adjustments or adaptations are necessary to remain nimble, focused and at the forefront of national disability policy.
NCD is proud of our history, heritage, and role in shaping national disability policy. We appreciate and value the relationships and partnerships we've built with our constituency that add to the agency's expertise, diversity, and integrity. NCD takes our role as a trusted adviser on national disability policy seriously and look forward to maintaining our commitment to and connection with the disability community for years to come.
For more information about WIOA, visit: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2014/h378
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