FY19 Federal Budget Strengthens Support for Autism

October 2, 2018

Autism Speaks advocates for appropriations to ensure federal agencies that run programs for autism research, services, and supports are appropriately funded.

Twelve appropriations bills, which provide funding for the federal government in the next fiscal year, must pass each year. These bills must be enacted by October 1, or the government shuts down due to lack of funding.

Last week, an appropriations “minibus” was enacted that includes the funding bills for the Department of Defense, and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for Fiscal Year 2019.

This is the first time the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill has been completed before October 1, the start of the new fiscal year, since 1999.

This spending package includes wins for autism research and services, including

  • $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH’s funding increase is particularly important in achieving the goal set by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to double the autism research budget by 2020.
  • $150 million increase for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), with $57.5 million NIMH funds designated for the BRAIN initiative.
  • $23.1 million for autism activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC’s work includes providing essential data on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), searching for risk factors and possible causes, and developing resources to help identify children as early as possible.
  • $1.5 million increase to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) for autism activities, with $33.5 million of HRSA funds designated for LEND.
  • $7.5 million for the Autism Research Program at the Department of Defense. Since its inception in Fiscal Year 2007, close to $100 million has been directed to promote innovative research designed to advance the understanding of ASD and to improve the lives of those living with autism. 
  • $12.4 billion for IDEA special education, an $87 million increase over last year.

These funding increases and focus on autism-specific programs keep us on a path toward new autism discoveries and supports.

We owe a special thanks to Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) who led the effort for these programs in the House of Representatives, and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Thom Tills (R-NC) who led the effort in the Senate.