U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez touted his efforts on behalf of autism funding and awareness during a campaign stop in Wayne Monday. The appearance comes three weeks before the election, as both Menendez and his GOP opponent Joe Kyrillos continue efforts to woo voters.
Menendez met with several New Jersey advocates in the fight against autism who said they consider the Democrat one of their most vocal supporters. Menendez spoke about the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, which provides federal support for research, screening, therapy and education on autism. The bill, which he authored, was passed and signed into law last year.
The press event took place at the home of Cecilia Feeley, whose 13-year-old son was diagnosed with autism a decade ago. Feeley said many people did not understand the problem a decade ago, but that strides in the law, health care and education have made it easier for families like hers. She hoped leaders like Menendez would continue their work and get resources and care extended to adults with autism.
The Los Angeles Times reports on autism activist Elizabeth Emken, in an uphill race against Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):
She pressed lawmakers in both parties to pass the Children's Health Act of 2000, the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and laws in more than two dozen states requiring insurers to cover behavioral health treatments for the disease. All required bipartisan backing.
Craig Snyder, a lobbyist who worked for both nonprofits, recalled an early meeting with now-retired [He died shortly after the article came out.] Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who held the purse strings for federal research. Specter "was in a foul mood" during the five minute "walk-and-talk" outside chambers, dismissing Emken and Snyder for seeking "miracles with dollars that don't exist." Then Emken got inches from his face.
"Are you trying to say that a mother of a sick child doesn't have the right to petition an elected official for the rights of that child?" Snyder recalled her asking. "The tenor of the meeting changed 180 degrees," he said.