05.26.11

Senators Enzi and Menendez Introduce Legislation to Reauthorize Combating Autism Act

WASHINGTON – Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) today unveiled legislation to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act of 2006. This legislation ensures that the critical programs established under the original law continue for an additional three years, including CDC surveillance programs, HRSA intervention and training programs, and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC).  These programs are set to expire in September of this year without any Congressional action.  Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Scott Brown (R-MA) are original cosponsors of this legislation. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D- PA) will be introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Families in New Jersey, more than anywhere else, understand that we need to address autism on multiple fronts.  I am proud to introduce this legislation to continue work on research, surveillance, awareness and treatment efforts in order to give these families the support they need,” said Senator Robert Menendez. “I look forward to passing the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act into law before it sunsets in September in order to ensure that we don’t lose the vital research and services that this legislation provides.”

“This important legislation continues the good work of the original Combating Autism Act, which assists individuals living with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families, and ensures that those key programs do not expire,” said Senator Mike Enzi, Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “This bill safeguards autism research and makes sure that there will be sustained awareness of autism across federal health agencies.  I am glad this bill will continue to provide a voice to the community of people affected by this disorder.”

Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks: "Autism Speaks thanks Senators Menendez and Enzi for their leadership in introducing this critical legislation which deeply impacts the futures of the ever-growing number of Americans diagnosed with autism.  Action is needed quickly in Congress to assure the federal government remains committed to addressing this national health crisis."

George Jesien, Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) said: “This law has shown significant progress in identifying possible causes and in increasing the capacity of professionals to screen, diagnose, treat and support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These efforts must continue.” 

Jeff Sell, VP of Public Policy and General Counsel for the Autism Society, said: “The Autism Society applauds the efforts of Sen. Menendez and Sen. Enzi in connection with the introduction a bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act (CAA).  The CAA coordinates every available system in order to efficiently and effectively address the needs of individuals with autism, which now affects one percent of the American population. If this legislation is not passed before the CAA sunset provisions take effect in September 2011, the growing number of individuals with autism will go without needed services and important research will come to an end; we cannot let that happen.  Our sincere appreciation goes out to Sen. Menendez and Sen. Enzi for their support of the autism community. 

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