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URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Contact Congress About FY 2016 Budget
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
by: Doris Ray, Director of Advocacy

Section: 2015

The 2016 fiscal year begins on October 1, and no funding bills have been passed out of Congress yet. As you know, NCIL has actively been advocating for a $200 million increase in IL funding, but based on the proposals currently being considered, our voices have not been heard. While the President’s budget includes a slight increase for IL programs of $5 million, the current House bill flat funds us and the Senate bill proposes a $5 million cut.
This is unacceptable! Not only have CILs been hurt by sequestration and other cuts, but the current demand for Independent Living services is higher than ever. Moreover, additional funding is desperately needed in order for CILs to carry out the new fifth core service effectively. The fifth core service directs CILs to make Transition Services a major component of the service program offered by a CIL like the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) and our satellite program, Loudoun ENDependence Center (LEND)
Congress returned to DC last week, and they need to hear from us – especially consumers, friends and supporters of Centers for Independent Living (CILs). CILs are community-based resource and advocacy centers run by and for people with all types of disabilities. Our unique array of peer-based, self-help services aim to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities to the services they need to live, work and participate fully in the community.
Please act today or tomorrow to contact Virginia’s U.S. Senators, Timothy M. Kaine and Mark R. Warner, and our Members of the House of
Representatives, Congressmen Donald S. Beyer (d-8th) and Gerald Connolly (D-11th) and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-10th).  It’s easy and quick using the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) advocacy action link -- visit our online action portal, where you can enter your zip code to call and email your Senators and Representatives. We need to remind Congress that by ensuring that people with disabilities are able to live, work, and participate in the community, CILs save the federal government millions of dollars. Funding Independent Living is not just critical for the disability community; it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do for our country!
Since we are local, we hope that you will also take time to call our two U.S. Senators and three Members of the House of Representatives. It’s free and only takes a few minutes!  It is vital that they receive lots of calls.  For maximum impact, please call tomorrow, or by the end of this week because others from CILs across the country will be calling. Here are the telephone numbers for our senators and Congresspersons:
            Senator Timothy M. Kaine                           202.224.4024  
            Senator Mark R. Warner                              202.224.2023  
            Congressman Donald S. Beyer, Jr.            202.225.4376  
            Congresswoman Barbara Comstock         202.225.5136  
            Congressman Gerald Connolly                   202.225.1492  
YOUR MESSAGE to Senators:  As you consider the FY 2016 Budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as a member of the Senate Committee on the Budget, and again when it comes to the Senate Floor, please oppose the proposed cuts to the Independent Living Program of $5 million. In fact, as a (consumer, friend, supporter) of Centers for Indpendent Living and consumer-run, peer-based services for people with disabilities, I would like to see federal funding increased for Centers for Independent Living. Optimally, I hope you could support a $200 million increase requested by the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) to help CILs, like the ENDependence Center of Northern (ECNV) provide youth transition services that assist young adults with disabilities transition from school to post-secondary education and training, work and community living; and assist adults and children with disabilities in nursing homes and other institutions to return to their own homes.
YOUR Message for our Congresspersons:  Please vote to increase funding for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) in the FY 2016 Budget now being considered by the House of Representatives. CILs, like the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) leverage federal funding with other funding from state and local governments and the private sector to provide the services that adults and children with disabilities need to remain at home, become more independent and self-sufficient, and more fully participate in their communities. Please vote to prevent any proposals, such as one in the Senate, that would cut funding for CILs, which have already experienced significant cuts due to sequestration. As your constituent, I urge you to sponsor and/or support budget amendments to increase the DHHS Independent Living Program budget as recommended by thje President.  The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) has requested a $200 million increase for CILs to restore recent funding cuts and make it possible for CILs to provide youth transition and nursing home transition services to people with disabilities.  It would represent a re-instement in a program that saves taxpayers federal dollars and helps people with disabilities become independent, productive, and tax-paying members of society.
If you wish to write a letter, see the sample letter below:
I am writing as your constituent,  and as a (consumer/friend/supporter) of the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV), which is one of 16 centers for independent living (CIL) in Virginia.  ECNV is also a member of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities.
I am writing to request that you reaffirm your commitment to the more than 57 million Americans with disability by increasing funding in the HHS budget for Centers for Independent Living (CILs).
Every day, CILs around the country work tirelessly to ensure that people with disabilities have a real choice in where and how they live, work, and participate in the community. CILs play a crucial role in the lives of people with disabilities, and they do this while saving federal and state governments millions of dollars annually.
Since transition services were added as a core service with the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the need for funding is critical. Moreover, CILs need additional funding to restore the devastating cuts to the Independent Living program, make up for inflation costs, and address the increased demand for Independent Living services. In 2015, the Independent Living Program is receiving nearly $3 million less in funding than it was in 2010. It is simply not possible for CILs, which are small, non-profit organizations run by people with disabilities themselves, to meet the demand for services and to effectively provide transition services to youth and young adults already in the community,, as well as people with disabilities and seniors seeking to get out of nursing homes and other institutions and return to their homes in the communit, without additional funding.
CILs are an excellent service and a bargain for America, keeping people engaged with their communities and saving taxpayer money. Funding Independent Living is not just critical for the disability community; it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do for our country!
You can go to the legislator’s website and simply use the sample letter, personalizing it with your own story about how ECNV or another CIL has helped you or educated you, or a family member about community resources and disability rights laws and programs.  Then go to the legislator’s website and cut and paste your letter into the “contact us”  or “comment” tool that is provided.
For questions, or assistance, contact your ECNV Peer Counselor/Mentor, or Doris Ray at
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