Menendez Hails House Passage of Autism Bill, Readies for Senate Action

Menendez Hails House Passage of Autism Bill, Readies for Senate Action

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) hailed the House of Representatives' passage of the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (Autism CARES) Act.Tonight's vote marks the bill's final step in the House, having previously been amended by the Energy and Commerce Committee to become the identical companion to Menendez's Senate bill, S. 2449.

"Today's House vote brings us another step closer to ensuring these vital programs are reauthorized and they continue providing for the research, services and supports individuals with autism and their families have come to rely on," said Menendez."I look forward to tomorrow's markup in the HELP Committee, its passage through the Senate and swiftly on to the President's desk."

Menendez today met with Autism Speaks President Liz Feld to discuss the Autism CARES Act and autism advocacy measures (photo below).

"Autism Speaks expresses its gratitude to the House of Representatives for approving Autism CARES and our Senate champions, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), for delivering the bipartisan support and priority attention this legislation demands," said Autism Speaks President Liz Feld. "Autism CARES calls for $260 million annually in new federal funding, a revamped Interagency Autism Coordinating Council (IACC), and an initiative to address the growing needs of adults with autism.The legislation will also institute stronger accountability controls over the use of federal funding. Autism is this nation's fastest growing neuro-developmental disability and now costs the United States $239 billion a year. Doing nothing is not an option."

According to a recent report by the CDC, autism rates climbed nearly 30% between 2008 and 2010, to 1 in 68 children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, from 1 in 88 children.In New Jersey, that prevalence is 1 in 45 children.

Senator Menendez is the leading advocate in Congress for individuals with autism and their families, having secured the passage of the 2011 reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act. Additionally, he authored the Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence and Navigation (AGE-IN) Act to address the needs of youth and young adults as they transition out of school-based support to independent adulthood. Several key policies from this legislation are incorporated in the Autism CARES Act.