Rep. Chris Smith (R-04) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) today unveiled bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act.
“We need to work overtime to build on the successes CARA is producing for individuals with autism and their families,” said Smith, author of the bill who with Doyle founded and co-chairs the bipartisan Coalition on Autism Research and Education (C.A.R.E.). “This is a critical investment that is working to determine the cause of ASD, identify autistic children as early as possible to begin treatment, and producing better awareness, new therapies and effective services. The quality of life of many children is at stake, as it is with young adults who age out of the support services in educational systems.”
The bill, H.R. 4631, has 35 bipartisan co-sponsors.
Smith’s bill adds key reforms to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and safeguards to the funding allotted in the bill to ensure coordination is maximized and the taxpayers’ dollars are spent efficiently. It further increase accountability but requiring HHS to designate an individual charged with implementing IACC’s annual strategic plan and report to Congress how they are doing so.
It was almost 17 years ago, on September 13, 1997, Bobbie and Billy Gallagher, of Brick, N.J. residents with two small children with autism, walked into Smith’s office looking for help. The Gallaghers brought a focus to the issue of autism and the needs of autistic children that was missing at the federal level. Armed with data and their own research, they helped win approval of a landmark federal study and the enactment of legislation in 2000—the Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research and Epidemiology Act (Title I, P.L. 106-310)—which created the first comprehensive federal program to combat autism.
Smith is the author of the 2011 law,The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA)— (now Public Law 112-32) enacted on September 30, 2011. CARA authorized autism-related programs for fiscal years 2012, 2013 and 2014 and included: $22 million for the Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program; $48 million for Autism Education, Early Detection, and Intervention, and; $161 million for hundreds of Research Grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Smith’s new bill reauthorizes these programs for five years.