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CARA Clears First Vote In Congress

May 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (May 28, 2014) -- A House panel today quickly approved the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA), HR.4631, adopting amendments worked out with supporters in the Senate.

The voice vote by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts R-PA) left, was the first on the bill since it was introduced May 12 by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA). The bill now goes before the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.

View the hearing below

“Today's subcommittee markup was an important first step towards passing a very important piece of legislation," said Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel, Autism Speaks. "We must protect the federal investment in autism and ensure that it is as efficient and effective as possible going forward.  We look forward to working with the House and Senate to ensure the best bill possible is signed into law to address this crisis.” 

The Combating Autism Act, enacted in 2006 and then renewed in 2011, will expire September 30 unless reauthorized by Congress. The law has dedicated $1.7 billion in federal funding for autism research, prevalence monitoring and training of medical professionals.

"In addition to reauthorizing existing provisions, the bill will require a study on the needs of autistic youth transitioning into adulthood and the available services to help them as adults" said Pitts. "We have worked closely with our Senate colleagues to strengthen this bill and continue the important research to identify better prevention strategies, diagnostics, treatments, and even a cure."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the full House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, "In the face of growing prevalence, it is critical that we continue to support those with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families by supporting autism research and passing H.R. 4631."

Since the law was first enacted in 2006, the prevalence of autism has jumped 123 percent.

The ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. Frank Pallone, said, "Extending the current programs already underway is still critical....The amendment reflects ongoing bipartisan and bicameral efforts to achieve consensus legislation."

Pallone said House supporters are working closely with Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) "to ensure the bill moves forward expeditiously."