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Congress IconReauthorization of Rehab Act S.1356 Immediate Action Needed!


NRA ALERT March 26, 2014

To:              All National Rehabilitation Association Members
From:         Patricia Leahy, Director of Government Affairs
Re:             WIA/VR Alert - Immediate Action Needed
Date:         Wednesday, March 26, 2014

For those who read on the run, this is an ALERT TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION to contact your respective Members of Congress in the U.S. HOUSE of Representatives ONLY, as well as those Members of Congress who serve on the HOUSE Education and the Workforce Committee on the WIA/VR bills.  We are attaching a list of the Members of Congress who serve on the HOUSE Education and the Workforce Committee for your information.

Once again, we are asking you to contact immediately ONLY your respective Members of Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives and to contact your respective Members of Congress who serve on the HOUSE Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee. 

Based on reliable information, we believe that the House and Senate may be closer to agreement on a compromise between the House and the Senate WIA/VR bills, H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act, and S. 1356, the Senate version of the WIA/VR reauthorization bill. The House and Senate, as you may know, have been pre-conferencing the two bills for several months and we believe an agreement is imminent which would include RSA moving from the U.S. Department of Education to the U.S. Department of Labor and including Section 511 language related to employment of individuals with disabilities at the sub-minimum wage.

The National Rehabilitation Association does not want sub-minimum wage linked to the Rehabilitation Act since the Rehab Act calls for competitive integrated employment throughout the Act.

We are attaching a sample letter which we ask you to use as a template in contacting/faxing your own letters to your Members of Congress and to those of you who may have Members who serve on the HOUSE Education and the Workforce Committee. Once you have faxed your letter to your HOUSE Members of Congress, we ask you to follow up to make sure they received your fax. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, SEND LETTERS THROUGH THE MAIL. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

When contacting your Members of Congress in the HOUSE, please make sure you mention (as is stated in the attached sample letter) that the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee have been pre-conferencing (talking to each other about a compromise) between their respective bills and that a compromise may be imminent.

If you are a constituent of the HOUSE Member of Congress you are contacting, please make sure you mention that in your letter.  This means that you must live in the Congressperson's District (city or cities he/she represents).  

Your letters/faxes must be done this week because a deal may be at hand.  Please also fax your letters to your Congressperson's District Office (State office) as well as the Washington, D.C. office. I have been contacting NRA Members throughout the day with regard to the urgency of this matter.   DON'T HESITATE -- DON'T WAIT -- FAX YOUR LETTERS TO YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS EITHER ON THURSDAY OR FRIDAY OF THIS WEEK.

Please email me at patricia@nationalrehab.org with any information or responses you may receive from your House Members. Please do NOT send this Washington Wire to your Member of Congress, just your letter. For those of you who work at the State VR agencies, please remember that any contacting of your Members of Congress should be done on your own time on your own dime. Please remember:  ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL and one person can make a difference. 

Thank you.
Patricia Leahy, Director of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy
National Rehabilitation Association

NRA Sample Letter

House Education and Workforce Committee List

Oklahoma Sample Letter

Oklahoma Congressional Members

What is S.1356?

Legislation now before Congress will affect the future of employment for individuals with disabilities and the future of the rehabilitation professions. S.1356, the Workforce Investment Act – Rehabilitation Act reauthorization bill now in the U.S. Senate would make big changes in the Vocational Rehabilitation program, how success is measured, how VR professionals are qualified, how services are delivered and how the VR citizens with disabilities have a voice in the shaping of this legislation. Please review the information below to learn what this bill does, alternative ideas, and how to participate. You must act NOW to have an impact on the future of rehabilitation.

Quick Facts  - What does S.1356 do in its current form?

CSAVR and Coalition Alternative Proposal

Key Points to Consider

Contact your Senator

The most effective way to contact your Senator is by phone, fax or on their website. Contact information is below. You may want to consider sending your communications to Ms. Claudia Gordon, White House Public Engagement Advisory for the Disability Community, to keep the White House informed regarding this legislation and to the HELP Committee Chairman, Senator Tom Harkin (IA-D) and HELP Committee Ranking Member, Senator Lamar Alexander (TN-R).

Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.
Phone:  202-224-5754
Fax:  202-224-6008
Contact Online

Senator James M. Inhofe
Phone:  202-224-4721
Fax:  202-228-0380
Contact Online

Ms. Claudia Gordon
White House Public Engagement Advisor for the Disability Community202
Email:  Claudia_L_Gordon@who.eop.gov

Senator Tom Harkin (IA)
Phone:  202-224-3254
Fax:  202-224-9369
Contact Online

Senator Lamar Alexander (TN)
Phone:  202-224-4944
Fax:  202-228-3398
TTY:  202-224-1546
Contact Online

Correspondence Examples

Below are examples of letters others have sent. Please adjust your letter to reflect your personal situation or views.

Example letter for Consumer 1

Example letter for Consumer 2

Example letter for current VR consumer

Example letter for former VR consumer – short version

Example letter for former VR consumer – long version

Example letter for Certified Rehabilitation Counselor

Example letter for Rehabilitation Counselor

Example letter for Rehabilitation Professional