Ask the Appropriations Committee to Support the PRC

Posted by Reeve Foundation Staff in Daily Dose on June 29, 2021 # Advocacy and Policy

On May 28th, the White House released the president’s budget request, the first of President Joe Biden’s term, and with that began the long process of Congressional appropriations to fund the government and its various programs for Fiscal Year 2022.

President Biden’s budget requests just over $6 trillion in spending, and is meant to serve as the foundation for his two pronged infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Families Plan. These plans includes proposals such as 4 years of free education and a continuation of the child tax credit, mandated by the American Rescue Plan in March, and have been hailed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, as “the most significant agenda for working families in the modern history of our country.”

The President’s budget also includes a 23.4% bump in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), totaling $133.7 billion, including a 5% increase in funding for the Paralysis Resource Center (PRC), on top of the $9.7 million provided last year.

As a reminder, the President’s Budget is simply a proposal from the administration--ultimately, it is Congress which decides how the federal government spends money, and that process begins in the House of Representatives. Once again, Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), led efforts to circulate a Dear Colleague Letter in support for the PRC and our advocates came through in a big way, urging their members to sign on!

In total, Reeve Foundation advocates sent 890 emails to Capitol Hill asking their Representatives to sign the Langevin-Fitzpatrick letter and helped garner bipartisan support for PRC funding in the final HHS funding package.

House Leadership has signaled that they plan to pass appropriations bills on the House floor before the August recess, which is set to begin August 2nd. On Monday, July 12th, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, which is the subcommittee that oversees all of HHS, including the PRC, will meet to mark up their spending bill.

In the leadup to the markup next month, the Reeve Foundation submitted prepared testimony from our board Chair Jay P. Shepard outlining the vital work of the PRC, including the many ways our Information Specialists help families in need and the vital investments our Quality of Life Grants program has made to communities in every state. The full appropriations committee will meet to mark up the bill on July 15th.

We ask advocates to take action to urge members of the Appropriations Committee to approve PRC funding with the 5% increase outlined in the White House budget. If your Representative is not on the committee, you can still take time to remind them of the important work of the PRC.

We hope that when the House passes their appropriations bills, they will move onto the Senate. We also anticipate that the Senate will be focused on President Biden’s infrastructure plan for most of the summer, as the two parties continue to negotiate, and we will be watching closely if a final package includes the essential investment of $400 billion in Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). We recently held a webinar explaining the important work of HCBS and what an investment of that size will mean for Americans with disabilities. You can watch the recording here.

Throughout the summer, we will continue to monitor Congressional activity and we will also continue working closely with a coalition of disability rights groups, including the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), on passing the Air Carriers Access Amendment Act (ACAA). While Congress is talking about updating our infrastructure, they should also talk about improving air travel to better accommodate Americans with disabilities. You can get involved by sharing your story of air travel or submit photos of your experience here.

And don’t forget to sign up to become a Reeve Foundation online advocate to stay up to date on ways you can weigh in on important public policy issues on behalf of Americans living with paralysis.

Take action now.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.