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Autism Speaks Hails House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for Accelerating Action to Renew Landmark 2006 Combating Autism Act

September 16, 2011

NEW YORK, NY (September 16, 2011) –  Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauded House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for agreeing to post a bipartisan bill next Tuesday for a House floor vote that would renew the landmark 2006 Combating Autism Act (CAA) for another three years. Critical provisions in the law are scheduled to expire September 30.

Sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), the bill would authorize an additional three years of federal funding frozen at current levels to continue research, services and treatment for autism and related behavioral disorders. The authorization would not add to the national debt, while allowing critical work to continue in addressing autism, which has been declared a public health emergency by the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"“Leader Cantor has earned the thanks of the entire autism community by doing his part to reaffirm the federal government’s commitment to address autism,"” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. "“It is the job now of the autism community to assure that the U.S. House of Representatives finishes the job Tuesday by voting ‘yes’ for reauthorization.”"

Autism Speaks also thanked House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), along with the panel’s Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), for their staunch support of the legislation.

Following passage by a unanimous vote of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Sept. 7, with the strong leadership of Chairman Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Senate is completing action on companion legislation sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), and President Obama has pledged to sign a bill reauthorizing the CAA this year. The CDC has determined that the incidence of autism in America has jumped to 1 in 110 children, and 1 in every 70 boys.

The bill has attracted strong bipartisan support in the House and the Senate, including co-sponsorships in the Senate by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Burr (R-NC), Robert Casey Jr (D-PA) and Bernard Sanders (I-VT), and in the House by Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Steve Stivers (R-OH), John Larson (D-CT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

CARA would authorize a total of $693 million on continued biomedical and treatment research on autism and require further development of an overall strategic plan for the intensification, expansion and better coordination of federal efforts designed to help persons with autism and their families.

The Combating Autism Act of 2006 was signed into law on December 19, 2006 by President George Bush following a nearly unanimous Congressional vote. The CAA made a clear statement by the U.S. government on the public health emergency posed by the growing prevalence of ASDs, and the lack of adequate research, effective treatments, and services to address this urgent and growing crisis.