Declaration of policy; authorization of appropriations
(a) Findings; purpose; policy (1) Findings Congress finds that -
(A) work -
(i) is a valued activity, both for individuals and society; and (ii) fulfills the need of an individual to be productive, promotes independence, enhances self-esteem, and allows for participation in the mainstream of life in the United States; (B) as a group, individuals with disabilities experience staggering levels of unemployment and poverty; (C) individuals with disabilities, including individuals with the most significant disabilities, have demonstrated their ability to achieve gainful employment in integrated settings if appropriate services and supports are provided; (D) reasons for significant numbers of individuals with disabilities not working, or working at levels not commensurate with their abilities and capabilities, include -
(i) discrimination; (ii) lack of accessible and available transportation; (iii) fear of losing health coverage under the medicare and medicaid programs carried out under titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act (42 USC 1395 et seq. and 1396 et seq.) or fear of losing private health insurance; and (iv) lack of education, training, and supports to meet job qualification standards necessary to secure, retain, regain, or advance in employment; (E) enforcement of subchapter V of this chapter and of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC 12101 et seq.) holds the promise of ending discrimination for individuals with disabilities; (F) the provision of workforce investment activities and vocational rehabilitation services can enable individuals with disabilities, including individuals with the most significant disabilities, to pursue meaningful careers by securing gainful employment commensurate with their abilities and capabilities; and (G) linkages between the vocational rehabilitation programs established under this subchapter and other components of the statewide workforce investment systems are critical to ensure effective and meaningful participation by individuals with disabilities in workforce investment activities.
(2) Purpose The purpose of this subchapter is to assist States in operating statewide comprehensive, coordinated, effective, efficient, and accountable programs of vocational rehabilitation, each of which is
(A) an integral part of a statewide workforce investment system; and (B) designed to assess, plan, develop, and provide vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities, consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice, so that such individuals may prepare for and engage in gainful employment.
(3) Policy It is the policy of the United States that such a program shall be carried out in a manner consistent with the following principles:
(A) Individuals with disabilities, including individuals with the most significant disabilities, are generally presumed to be capable of engaging in gainful employment and the provision of individualized vocational rehabilitation services can improve their ability to become gainfully employed.
(B) Individuals with disabilities must be provided the opportunities to obtain gainful employment in integrated settings.
(C) Individuals who are applicants for such programs or eligible to participate in such programs must be active and full partners in the vocational rehabilitation process, making meaningful and informed choices -
(i) during assessments for determining eligibility and vocational rehabilitation needs; and (ii) in the selection of employment outcomes for the individuals, services needed to achieve the outcomes, entities providing such services, and the methods used to secure such services.
(D) Families and other natural supports can play important roles in the success of a vocational rehabilitation program, if the individual with a disability involved requests, desires, or needs such supports.
(E) Vocational rehabilitation counselors that are trained and prepared in accordance with State policies and procedures as described in section 721(a)(7)(B) of this title (referred to individually in this subchapter as a "qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor"), other qualified rehabilitation personnel, and other qualified personnel facilitate the accomplishment of the employment outcomes and objectives of an individual.
(F) Individuals with disabilities and the individuals' representatives are full partners in a vocational rehabilitation program and must be involved on a regular basis and in a meaningful manner with respect to policy development and implementation.
(G) Accountability measures must facilitate the accomplishment of the goals and objectives of the program, including providing vocational rehabilitation services to, among others, individuals with the most significant disabilities.
(b) Authorization of appropriations (1) In general For the purpose of making grants to States under part B of this subchapter to assist States in meeting the costs of vocational rehabilitation services provided in accordance with State plans under section 721 of this title, there are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 1999 through 2003, except that the amount to be appropriated for a fiscal year shall not be less than the amount of the appropriation under this paragraph for the immediately preceding fiscal year, increased by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index determined under subsection (c) of this section for the immediately preceding fiscal year.
(2) Reference The reference in paragraph (1) to grants to States under part B of this subchapter shall not be considered to refer to grants under section 732 of this title.
(c) Consumer Price Index (1) Percentage change No later than November 15 of each fiscal year (beginning with fiscal year 1979), the Secretary of Labor shall publish in the Federal Register the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index published for October of the preceding fiscal year and October of the fiscal year in which such publication is made.
(2) Application (A) Increase If in any fiscal year the percentage change published under paragraph (1) indicates an increase in the Consumer Price Index, then the amount to be appropriated under subsection (b)(1) of this section for the subsequent fiscal year shall be at least the amount appropriated under subsection (b)(1) of this section for the fiscal year in which the publication is made under paragraph (1) increased by such percentage change.
(B) No increase or decrease If in any fiscal year the percentage change published under paragraph (1) does not indicate an increase in the Consumer Price Index, then the amount to be appropriated under subsection (b)(1) of this section for the subsequent fiscal year shall be at least the amount appropriated under subsection (b)(1) of this section for the fiscal year in which the publication is made under paragraph (1).
(3) Definition For purposes of this section, the term "Consumer Price Index" means the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(d) Extension (1) In general (A) Authorization or duration of program Unless the Congress in the regular session which ends prior to the beginning of the terminal fiscal year -
(i) of the authorization of appropriations for the program authorized by the State grant program under part B of this subchapter; or (ii) of the duration of the program authorized by the State grant program under part B of this subchapter; has passed legislation which would have the effect of extending the authorization or duration (as the case may be) of such program, such authorization or duration is automatically extended for 1 additional year for the program authorized by this subchapter.
(B) Calculation The amount authorized to be appropriated for the additional fiscal year described in subparagraph (A) shall be an amount equal to the amount appropriated for such program for fiscal year 2003, increased by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index determined under subsection (c) of this section for the immediately preceding fiscal year, if the percentage change indicates an increase.
(2) Construction (A) Passage of legislation For the purposes of paragraph (1)(A), Congress shall not be deemed to have passed legislation unless such legislation becomes law.
(B) Acts or determinations of Commissioner In any case where the Commissioner is required under an applicable statute to carry out certain acts or make certain determinations which are necessary for the continuation of the program authorized by this subchapter, if such acts or determinations are required during the terminal year of such program, such acts and determinations shall be required during any fiscal year in which the extension described in that part of paragraph (1) that follows clause (ii) of paragraph (1)(A) is in effect.
(Pub. L. 93-112, title I, Sec. 100, as added Pub. L. 105-220, title IV, Sec. 404, Aug. 7, 1998, 112 Stat. 1116.)