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Calls to Action

Federal Funding & Research Initiatives

Federal Funding Initiatives For Autism

Enacted in 2006 and reauthorized in 2011, the Combating Autism Act has been the primary vehicle for federal funding for autism research, services, training and monitoring. Reauthorization legislation, called Autism CARES passed in 2014. As a result of the law, over $1.7 billion in federal funding dedicated for autism has been provided to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Human Resources and Services Administration. An additional $122 million was appropriated in 2009 and 2010 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Recently, on March 23, 2018, the annual appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018 was signed into law marking some significant wins for the autism community. The spending package includes what has been called an unprecedented increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. Funding for the National Institutes of Health was increased by 9% to $37.08 billion dollars. This includes an increase of $109,844,000 to the National Institute of Mental Health. This increase will allow more funding to be spent on needed research for autism and many other disorders. Importantly, the accompanying budget report encourages the NIH to follow the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee’s latest strategic plan for autism research, which recommends a doubling of the autism research budget by 2020. The increased funds and guidance from Congress are pivotal steps in this direction.

For more information, check out the following advocacy articles:


Medical Research and Innovation

The 21st Century Cures Act, which received broad bipartisan approval in the U.S. House established an $8.75 billion fund for the NIH to support biomedical research to accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new treatments for all, including those with autism. It directs the NIH Director to require those whose research is fully funded by NIH to share their data and would help organize collaborative research through a clinical trial data system. It also requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to incorporate patient experience into regulatory decision-making. The legislation requires the FDA to advance the development of personalized medicine, which holds promise for individuals diagnosed with autism. Final medical innovation legislation passed by the House and Senate reduces risk and creates incentives for the development of treatment into complex Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders like autism. It further supports the science around patient reported outcomes and advances the regulatory environment that converts research into treatments for people with autism and other medical needs.

For more information, check out the following advocacy articles:


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...
WASHINGTON, DC (August 8, 2014) – President Obama signed the Autism CARES Act today, which dedicates $1.3 billion in federal funding for autism over the next five years. Autism CARES—...
WASHINGTON, DC (July 31, 2014) -- The U.S. Senate tonight approved the Autism CARES Act, which would dedicate $1.3 billion in federal funding for autism over the next five years. The bill was...
WASHINGTON, DC (June 25, 2014) -- Less than 24 hours after being approved by the House, legislation renewing the federal government's funding response to autism for another five years cleared the...
(June 25, 2014) -- This morning, Autism Speaks Co-Founder Bob Wright talked on C-SPAN about the rising rates of autism and the need for funding for autism research. The U.S. House of...
WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2014) -- The U.S. House of Representatives tonight approved a five-year extension of federal funding for autism research, monitoring and other activities with strong...
WASHINGTON, DC (June 12, 2014) -- The Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of 110 national disabilities organizations, has announced its support for Autism CARES, the amended...
WASHINGTON, DC (June 10, 2014) -- Legislation to renew and rename the Combating Autism Act was introduced in the Senate while a House version cleared committee and was sent to the House floor....
WASHINGTON, DC (June 4, 2014) -- A coalition of 36 national disabilities organizations, including Autism Speaks, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Easter Seals, The Arc, National Down Syndrome...
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...

Federal Funding Helpful Links

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (Autism CARES)

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) of 2011

The Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)

        Reports to Congress


Read Autism Law Needs Reauthorization - International Business Times (December 21, 2010)

CAA Bill History


July 31: Autism CARES (HR.4631) voted out of Senate by unanimous consent; sent to President Obama

June 26: S.2449 reported out of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for a Senate floor vote

June 24: HR.4631 voted out of House by unanimous consent; sent to Senate

June 9: S.2449 introduced in the Senate by Senators Robert Menendez [D-NJ] and Michael Enzi [R-WY] with amendments agreed to with House; HR.4631 reported out of House Energy and Commerce Committee with amendments, including name change to Autism CARES Act of 2014

May 9: HR. 4631, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014, introduced in the House by Reps. Chris Smith [R-NJ] and Mike Doyle [D-PA]


Dec. 23: President Obama signs FY12 budget bill appropriating first $230 million allocation under CARA

Sept. 30: President Obama signs the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 into law

Statements by:
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Sept. 27: CARA voted out of Senate by unanimous consent and sent President Obama
Senate vote
Statement from Sen. Menendez

Sept. 20: U.S. House of Representatives approves the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act by voice vote.
Statements by:
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Rep. Smith's floor remarks

Sept. 7: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee moves S.1094 out of committee by unanimous voice vote for Senate floor vote.

Statements by:
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) 

May 26: Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 introduced in the Senate (S-1094)  and in the House (HR-2005.) S-1094 referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; HR 2005 referred to House Committee on Energy and Commerce.