Combating Autism Act - Update and Action Needed!

Urge Representatives to Pass the Combating Autism Act

September 19, 2011

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The House of Representatives will vote September 20, on its version of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2005).  It will use a fast-track procedure that requires two-thirds of members present to vote for the bill.  Although the Senate bill (S. 1094) was passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the full Senate is expected to wait until the House acts and then pass the House bill through a similar fast-track process. The House and Senate bills are identical. Additionally, the continuing resolution being considered in the House (see FY 2012 Appropriations below) contains language to maintain funding for activities under the Combating Autism Act until November 18 in case Congress does not pass the reauthorization bill before September 30, the day the original law expires.  See AUCD's alert on our Action Center to contact your members of Congress.



Summary of Current Status

The House bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act (H.R. 2005) is on the "Suspension Calendar" for tomorrow, Tuesday, September 20 at 6:30 p.m.  As we reported on Friday, this means that the House bill will be passed on a fast-track procedure without committee consideration.  Congressional rules require 2/3 of the Representatives present to vote for the bill to be successfully passed under this procedure. Therefore, we still need calls made to Representatives to vote for H.R. 2005.

While we had hoped that the Senate bill (S. 1094) would have been passed on Friday, we have now learned that the Senate is expected to pass the bill this week after the House acts.  We expect S. 1094 to be considered by unanimous consent. This means it will not have to be scheduled for floor debate.  It was unanimously passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on September 7. 

Additionally, the House and Senate are working to pass a continuing resolution this week to keep Federal government programs operating into the new Fiscal Year as they work on finalizing annual funding bills.  The CR contains language to extend funding for programs authorized by the Combating Autism Act.  This means that if the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act is not passed by September 30, funding will continue for these programs until November 18.  We hope we will be successful passing the bill by the end of this week but it is nice to have this insurance!

Action Steps

  1. Contact all of your Representatives (if you are a LEND/University Center, you represent the whole state).  Message: Vote for H.R. 2005 when it comes up for a vote under "Suspension of the Rules".
  2. Share this alert and ask other stakeholders in your state to take action too!

To call, dial the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your Member.  Ask to speak to the person working on health or disability issues. If you received a personal email from AUCD with specific contact information, contact that staffer directly by email. You can also contact your members of Congress in person or by email using AUCD's Action Center

Contact Kim Musheno if you need more information or to report on your contacts.


In 2006, President Bush signed into law the Combating Autism Act (CAA, PL 109-416).  The law focused on expanding research and coordination at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), increasing awareness programs and surveillance at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and expanding the interdisciplinary training of health professionals to identify and support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families through programs of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  Section 399BB (e) specifically authorizes the expansion of the LEND programs to increase their efforts to train professionals to diagnose or rule out autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities and to develop and provide evidence-based interventions for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Due to "sunset" language, this law was set to expire if it is not reauthorized by September 30, 2011.  On May 26, bipartisan bills were introduced in both chambers to extend the law for an additional three years at FY 2011 funding levels.  The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (S. 1094) is sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Enzi (R-WY), ranking minority member of the Senate HELP Committee, along with Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL).  Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (R-PA), co-chairs of the Bipartisan Caucus on Autism, introduced a companion bill (H.R. 2005).