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Federal Policy News and Action Alert

Urge your Congressperson to support the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act

Committee scheduled for a markup meeting on Wednesday, September 7th

Congress is back from their summer recess this week and its time to get back to work! There are less than 30 days left to secure the passage of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, S. 1094. The Combating Autism Act, originally enacted in 2006, allows for significant federal appropriations, including expanding research and coordination at the National Institutes of Health, increasing awareness and surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and expanding the interdisciplinary training of health professionals to identify and support children with ASD and their families. The bill is due to expire on September 30, which means an immediate hard stop of federal funding if action is not taken. In the years since it was enacted its provide 1 billion in funding for research on autism; during that time we have seen significant advances in understanding autism, but unfortunately have also seen a rise in prevalence, now estimated by the CDC at 1 in 110 children, the incidence in NC is even higher.

 The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is scheduled to hear the bill tomorrow, Wednesday September 7at 10 AM.

You can help ensure its passage in three ways:

1)      Senators Burr and Hagan are already co-sponsors of the reauthorization act, but it’s critical for them to attend the markup and ensure the bill moves forward in time to meet the deadline.  Call Senators Burr and Hagan, thank them for their support of the reauthorization and ask that they attend Wednesday’s markup of the Combating Autism Act reauthorization in the Senate HELP Committee.

 CALL Sen. Richard Burr
Phone: (202) 224-3154

AND CALL Sen. Kay Hagan
Phone: (202) 224-6342

 Talking points for your message (you will speak to a staff person in their offices):

  • You are a constituent.
  • Thank them for support of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, Senate bill 1094
  • Please continue to support the bill moving forward by attending the Senate HELP Committee meeting and voting in favor of the bill.¬†¬†

2)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Call or write your own Congressional House Representative and ask that they support the House version of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, H 2005., If you live in NC District 1 or NC District 8, Representatives G.K. Butterfield and Larry Kissell, have already signed on as co-sponsors ‚Äď please thank them. We need the rest of the North Carolina Congressional Representatives to support this bill. In particular, Rep. Sue Myrick, NC District 9, sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including the Health Sub-committee that will hear the bill; her support is crucial. Don‚Äôt know who represents you in Congress? See Congressional Representatives for more information.

Talking points for your message:

  • You are a constituent.
  • You support the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, House bill 2005.
  • You want them to sign on to the bill as a co-sponsor (If they already have, Thank them for their support.)


Representative Co-Sponsor of H 2005 District
Rep. G. K. Butterfield, Jr. YES  (June 14)       1
Rep. Renee L. Ellmers No   2
Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr No 3
Rep. David  Price    No  4
Rep. Virginia Foxx No 5
Rep. Howard Coble No 6
Rep. Mike McIntyre No 7
Rep. Larry Kissell     YES (July 29) 8
Rep. Sue Myrick No 9
Rep. Patrick McHenry No 10
Rep. Heath Schuler No 11
Rep. Mel Watt No 12
Rep. Brad Miller No 13


3)      Stare this information with your friends, family and neighbors and ask them to contact their Congresspersons as well.


 Plans for Legislation to Fully Fund the Federal Portion of Special Education

Disability Scoop reports that there are plans emerging in Congress to introduce legislation to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). When Congress enacted IDEA in 1975, the plan was to fund 40% of the costs to the states, with state and local governments funding the remainder. Congressional funding currently only provides 16.1% of the IDEA funding. The two potential bill sponsors disagree on where the additional funding would be found; one would come from cutting waste in defense programs and the other from taxes on cigarettes and cigars. This comes at a critical time, when states are cutting spending in education the US Department of Education appears to be making it easier for schools to cut special education funding.  Previous attempts to fully fund IDEA have not gained much traction in Congress.

Work on the Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act Stalls

Advocates disagree over potential provision of the bill that would allow for payment of subminimum wages under some circumstances: some feel it would encourage paying people with disabilities less, and discourage the movement toward competitive supported employment, while others argue that the provisions would ensure better oversight of existing sheltered workshop settings. See more at Disability Scoop here  and here. Congressional staff say that they continue to work on the potential legislation and it will move forward when ready.


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