PARAMUS, NJ (August 20, 2014) -- Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the lead Senate sponsor of the Autism CARES Act, celebrated the signing of the bill into law at an event here with representatives of Autism Speaks and New Jersey disabilities groups. The new law, which authorizes $1.3 billion in new federal research funding over five years, was signed earlier this month by President Obama.
"The Autism CARES Act not only provides for the continuation of vital federal efforts, but ensures they provide better outcomes,” said Menendez. (Pictured left with Valentine Center Executive Director Janet Mino and one of her students.)
View event video below
“The law now ensures that we continue research into potential causes, new early diagnostic and intervention techniques, and more effective supports and services for those with autism and their families, and it pays attention to the unique needs facing those transitioning to adulthood and to independent lives.
“We have to be vigilant and united in our support—to put a focus on transitioning youth and adult services—so that children with autism are able to fulfill their God-given potential and become successful, independent adults,” he said.
Menendez spoke at the ECLC of New Jersey's Bergen P.R.I.D.E. Center, celebrating the new law with autism advocates.
"Senator Bob Menendez has been a reliable and effective champion for the nation’s autism community, delivering once again with the enactment of the Autism CARES Act,” said Stuart Spielman, Autism Speaks’ senior policy advisor and counsel.
“The unanimous Senate vote for the bill masks the hard work by Senator Menendez and our other Congressional champions in overcoming challenges that could have derailed continued federal funding for autism research," he added. "Autism CARES is a thoughtfully crafted piece of legislation that protects federal investment in autism for years to come while creating a role for the federal government in addressing the needs of our rapidly growing population of Americans with autism.”
Autism CARES reauthorized the landmark 2006 Combating Autism Act for through 2019 at an annual funding level of $260 million. The funding will be used primarily for autism research grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health. Autism CARES will also ensure the continued funding of autism prevalence monitoring; training of medical professionals to detect autism; and continued efforts to develop treatments for medical conditions associated with autism.
The federal government will be required under the new law to inventory the current state of adult services and report to Congress where gaps exist and how to most effectively address those needs. Autism CARES also directs the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to avoid unnecessary duplication in research studies and develop annual updates to an autism strategic plan. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible for implementing the strategic plan and reporting to Congress on progress.