(NEW YORK, NY - September 29, 2006) - The refusal of House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton to move the Combating Autism Act (S.843) from his committee and bring it to the floor for a vote prior to the pre-election recess is a devastating blow to people with autism and their families. However, the fight for this critical legislation continues.
In his unwillingness to act on a bill meticulously crafted over 18 months and unanimously passed by the United States Senate, Congressman Barton has decided to put politics before the welfare of our children. Hundreds of senators and congressmembers from both sides of the aisle have met with families impacted by autism, been moved by their plight and signed on in support of the Combating Autism Act. Congressman Barton, on the other hand, allowed his determination to pass his own “NIH reform” legislation – a bill with almost no chance of passing the Senate this term – to supersede any concern for the millions of Americans whose struggles with autism are their everyday reality. His actions also constitute an attack on his congressional colleagues, prohibiting over 200 congressional supporters of the Combating Autism Act from fulfilling the wishes of their constituents.
Autism is an epidemic that now affects one in every 166 of our children, yet federal funding for autism remains woefully insufficient. The Combating Autism Act would have begun to address this inequity by authorizing $920 million over five years toward treatment and research into the causes – genetic, environmental or otherwise -- of the country's fastest-growing childhood developmental disorder.
The autism community will continue to fight for our children and families, putting pressure on our supporters in Congress to ensure that this legislation gets the full House vote it deserves.
--Autism Speaks, Cure Autism Now and the CombatAutism Coalition
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS
Autism Speaks is dedicated to accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of the nation's fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. The legislative agenda of Autism Speaks is to influence public policy and federal funding related to autism spectrum disorders. Autism Speaks is committed to working with other national and regional autism organizations to achieve this goal. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.