The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has announced that it has rescheduled a hearing on the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) for September 7. The meeting had been scheduled for this Wednesday Aug. 3, a date that unfortunately landed in the midst of the debt ceiling debate which has consumed Congress for much of the summer.
The HELP committee meeting is an important first step in renewing the historic 2006 law which guides the federal government’s response to the staggering rise in autism. Autism Speaks thanks everyone in our advocacy community for their hard work to date and urges you to be ready to resume the fight soon as we work to get this bill that is so essential to our families through Congress.
The CARA bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Enzi (R-WY,) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA.) To date, 22 other Senators and 53 House members have signed on as cosponsors.
Visit our CARA Action Center to find if your Senators and Congressmember are sponsors.
Since the original Combating Autism Act was approved in 2006 with near-unanimous Congressional support and signed into law by then President George W. Bush, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has risen to 1 in 110 American children – including 1 in 70 boys. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. are affected by autism, and government statistics suggest the prevalence rate is increasing 10-17 percent annually.
The CAA authorized nearly $1 billion of federal spending through 2011 on biomedical and treatment research on autism. It required the federal government to develop a strategic plan to expand and better coordinate the nation’s support for persons with autism and their families. Important research findings have resulted and critical studies are underway. Promising new interventions are making a difference in our children’s lives. For more CAA success stories, click here.
The 2006 law established autism as a national health priority and increased funding, leading to significant advances in our understanding of autism. But all of that progress could grind to a halt September 30 unless Congress sends President Obama a bill reauthorizing the Combating Autism Act. CARA would continue federal funding at current levels – that’s $693 million over the next three years dedicated exclusively for autism-related work by the National Institute of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other federal agencies. The President already has promised to sign a reauthorization bill this year.