WASHINGTON, DC (November 1, 2007) -- The joint House and Senate conference committee approved $37 million for autism services and treatment programs at the Health and Human Services's Health Resources and Services Administration. This represents a $17 million increase over last year's level, and is the amount authorized by the Combating Autism Act, which was signed into law last year.
Surveillance and awareness activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received $16.5 million, a $1.5 million increase over last year's levels and the same as the levels authorized by the Combating Autism Act. The Conference also added $1 million to the National Institutes of Health for implementation of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Under the Combating Autism Act, the IACC is charged with preparing a strategic research plan for NIH-funded autism research.
In addition, the conference committee agreed to a modified version of an amendment originally authored by Congressman Dave Weldon, which prohibits the federal government from administering any influenza vaccine containing thimerosal as a preservative to any child under 3 years of age, and includes the authority to lift this ban under certain conditions. The modified amendment was acceptable to Congressman Weldon.
President Bush has threatened to veto the Labor HHS bill because the total level of spending included in the bill is above his request. The autism community must stand by to lobby the President to sign the Labor HHS bill, and/or lobby congress to override his veto so as to ensure the realization of the autism-related funding contained in this bill.