Archived | The Washington Report: An Inside Look At Autism Speaks Advocacy In The Nation’s Capitol | Circa 2006 #NotAnAutisticAlly



Washington Report Archive
An Inside Look at Autism Speaks Advocacy in the Nation’s Capitol

From left to right, Elizabeth Emken; Bob Wright; Senator Bill Frist; Deirdre Imus; Suzanne Wright; Katie Wright

March 3, 2006

Autism Speaks co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright, their daughter Katie Wright, Deirdre Imus, founder of the Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology, and Cure Autism Now board members Elizabeth Emken and Craig Snyder met with Senate leaders Bill Frist (R-TN), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) on Wednesday, March 1, to discuss the Children’s Health Act of 2000 and to lobby for the Combating Autism Act in the Senate.

Later that day Majority Leader Frist addressed the issue of autism on the floor of the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Combating Autism Act has recently gained six new sponsors.

As of March 2, the bill has a total of 93 supporters in the House of Representatives, including 26 Republicans, 66 Democrats and one Independent.

There are a total of 24 supporters of the Senate bill, including 6 Republicans, 17 Democrats and one Independent


March 10, 2006


Since last week’s visit to Washington D.C. by the Wrights, Deirdre Imus, and CAN board members, the Combating Autism Act (S. 843) has gained an additional Senate cosponsor – Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – bringing the total number of Senators supporting the bill to 25.

The House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) has gained three additional cosponsors – Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2), Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY-6), and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) – bringing the total number of House supporters to 96. 


March 17, 2006


During the past week, the Senate version of the Combating Autism Act (S. 843) gained a new cosponsor – Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) – bringing the total number of Senate supporters to 26.

The House bill also gained a cosponsor – Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO-7) – bringing the total number of House supporters to 97. Both bills are supported by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. 


March 24, 2006


In an effort to secure additional funding for autism research during Federal Fiscal Year 2007, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) are circulating two letters among their House colleagues.

One letter is directed to the House appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over Department of Defense (DoD) funding, and asks for $10 million to be dedicated to autism research through the DoD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

The other letter is directed to the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Human Services. That letter asks for a $5 million increase in funding for autism activities (surveillance, epidemiological research, and awareness) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


From left to right, Bob Wright, Suzanne Wright, Jonathan Shestack, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Katie Wright, Dierdre Imus 

April 7, 2006

On April 4, nearly 90 volunteers and staff of Autism Speaks went to visit their U.S. Representatives and Senators on Capitol Hill. They visited 40 Senate offices and 51 House offices to urge support of the Combating Autism Act. 

On April 5th, Bob and Suzanne Wright, their daughter Katie, Deirdre Imus, and Autism Speaks board member Ann Gibbons joined Cure Autism Now co-founder and board member Jonathan Shestack and CAN board members Elizabeth Emken and Craig Snyder to meet with members of Congress to encourage their further support of the Combating Autism Act.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Representative Mary Bono (R-CA), and Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) thanked Autism Speaks for its efforts in promoting this important piece of legislation. (Reps. Bono and DeGette are the original sponsors of the House bill.) 

Since these Hill visits, six additional House Members have already signed on as cosponsors of the Combating Autism Act, including the co-chairs of the congressional Coalition for Autism Research and Education – Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA). Other new cosponsors are Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL-7), Michael Michaud (D-ME-2), Solomon Ortiz (D-TX-27), and Fred Upton (R-MI-6). Thus, there are now a total of 28 Senate supporters and 104 House supporters from both sides of the aisle. 


April 28, 2006 


Earlier this month, nearly 90 volunteers and staff of Autism Speaks visited their U.S. Representatives and Senators on Capitol Hill.

Since these constituent visits, 18 additional House Members have signed on as cosponsors of the Combating Autism Act, including the co-chairs of the congressional Coalition for Autism Research and Education – Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA); the Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce Committee (which has jurisdiction over the bill) – Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); and the Vice-Chair of the full committee – Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL). As of April 27, there were a total of 116 Representatives supporting the bill (34 Republicans, 81 Democrats, and one Independent). 

In the Senate, there are also new cosponsors – Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

Senator Bingaman is on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which has jurisdiction over the bill. As of April 27, there were a total of 29 Senators supporting the bill (8 Republicans, 20 Democrats, and one Independent).


May 5, 2006 


The Combating Autism Act. Both the House and Senate versions of the Combating Autism Act (S. 843/H.R. 2421) have gained new cosponsors during the past week, bringing the total to 34 Senators and 119 House members.

The new Senate cosponsors are Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), John Sununu (R-NH), David Vitter (R-LA), and John McCain (R-AZ).

Senators Murray and Reed are both on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill. In the House, the new cosponsors are Reps. Mike Ross (D-AR-4), Rick Renzi (R-AZ-1), and Gary Ackerman (D-NY-5). Representative Ross is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill in the House. 

CDC Appropriations. Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional Autism Caucus, have been circulating a letter among their House colleagues soliciting support for increased funding for autism surveillance, epidemiological research and awareness activities at the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thirty-six House members ultimately signed on to the letter, asking the relevant appropriations subcommittee to increase funding for the NCBDDD’s autism activities by $5 million in FY 2007. The letter also requests subcommittee report language encouraging the National Institutes of Health to enhance its research into autism. 

Department of Defense Appropriations. Reps. Smith and Doyle also circulated a letter among their House colleagues soliciting support for $10 million for autism research through the Department of Defense (DoD) in FY 2007.

The DoD already funds biomedical research on a number of medical conditions. While autism research currently can be conducted with DoD’s general medical research funds, the $10 million allocation sought for FY 2007 would be dedicated solely to autism research.

Thirty-nine House Members signed on to this letter, which was directed to the relevant House appropriations subcommittee. 



May 12, 2006


The Combating Autism Act. The House version of the Combating Autism Act (H.R. 2421) recently gained two new cosponsors – Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA-2) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8). This brings the total number of House supporters to 121, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). 

The Senate bill (S. 843) now has 34 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT).


May 19, 2006 


Funding for Autism Research. 

Autism Speaks Board Member Ann Gibbons presented testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education at a hearing on May 19.

Gibbons spoke about the negative effects on autism research that would result if funding for the National Institutes of Health is reduced, as proposed in President Bush’s budget.

Autism Speaks is advocating for enhanced autism research at the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and for a new autism research program at the Department of Defense. 


May 26, 2006 

Pittsburgh area volunteers for Autism Speaks met with staffers for Pittsburgh area representatives. From left to right: Jody Mortimer, Joe Gali, Travis Windle from Rep. Melissa Hart’s office, Patti McCloud, Kim Motosicky, Lisa Baxter, Kim Forrester. 


The Combating Autism Act. The House version of the Combating Autism Act (H.R. 2421) gained another cosponsor this week – Representative Jerry Weller (R-IL-11). This brings the total number of House supporters to 126, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). 

During the past week, Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) joined as a cosponsor of the Senate bill (S. 843), which now has 35 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). 

Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. On Wednesday, May 24, several Autism Speaks volunteers from the Pittsburgh area traveled to Washington to enlist support for autism research funding through the Department of Defense. The volunteers had very positive meetings with key staff members of Pittsburgh-area Representatives John Murtha (D-PA-12), Mike Doyle (D-PA-14), Melissa Hart (R-PA-4), and Tim Murphy (R-PA-18). 

Representative Murtha is the Ranking Minority Member on the DoD appropriations subcommittee, which is responsible for developing the DoD funding bill. The DoD currently funds research on a variety of medical disorders, and Autism Speaks is working to $10 million allocated specifically for autism research in the FY 2007 DoD budget.

Representative Doyle is co-chair of the House autism caucus with colleague Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ). They were joined by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) in soliciting their colleagues’ support for the $10 million request for DoD autism research funding. Thirty-nine House Members signed their letter of support to the DoD appropriations subcommittee. 


June 9, 2006


The Combating Autism Act. During the past week, Senators Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Jim Talent (R-MO), joined as cosponsors of the Senate bill (S. 843). The bill now has 38 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT).

The House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) also gained new cosponsors – Representatives John Lewis (D-GA-5) and Richard Neal (D-MA-2). The House bill now has 128 supporters, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). 

Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. The Department of Defense (DoD) funds research on a number of medical conditions. Autism Speaks and its volunteers have been working to get to $10 million allocated specifically for autism research in the FY 2007 DoD budget. On Wednesday, June 7, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its FY 2007 appropriations bill in a session closed to the public. Information on whether funding was allocated for autism research should be available next week. 

CDC and NIH Appropriations. Autism Speaks has been advocating for an increase in $5 million for CDC’s autism surveillance, research and awareness activities, and for enhanced autism research at the NIH. (Congress does not specify funding levels for particular NIH research, but can express its support in the report accompanying the bill.)

On Wednesday, June 7, the House appropriations subcommittee that recommends funding levels for the CDC and NIH marked up its FY 2007 bill. The mark-up was closed to the public, however, and information on the bill and report language will not be available until next week. 


June 16, 2006

Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. There is excellent news to report – the FY 2007 Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Bill, reported out of the House Appropriations Committee this week, includes $7.5 million for autism research.

The DoD already funds research on a number of other medical conditions, and Autism Speaks/NAAR and their volunteers have been working for several years to get dedicated DoD funding for autism research. The bill must still be approved by the full House and then reconciled with the Senate DoD appropriations bill, which has not yet been developed.

The Combating Autism Act. During the past week, Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) joined as a cosponsor of the Senate bill (S. 843). Thus, the bill now has 39 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT).

The House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) gained three new cosponsors — Representatives Dan Boren (D-OK-2), Stephanie Herseth (D-SD-At-large), and Jon C. Porter (R-NV-3). Thus, the House bill now has 130 supporters, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). 

CDC and NIH Appropriations. Autism Speaks has been advocating for an increase of $5 million for CDC’s autism surveillance, research and awareness activities in FY 2007, and for a 5% increase in overall funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (Congress does not specify funding levels for particular NIH research topics, but can express its support in the report accompanying the bill.) 

This week, the House Appropriations Committee reported out its version of the FY 2007 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill. For the CDC’s autism research, surveillance, and awareness activities, the bill provides a slight increase over last year’s level, for a total of $15.5 million (compared with $15.1 in FY 2006).

The House recommended that the $15.5 million be divided as follows: $12.8 million for surveillance and research, and $2.7 million for awareness activities. This compares to FY 2006 funding of approximately $12.6 million for autism surveillance and research, and $2.5 million for the awareness campaign. 

For the NIH, the House bill cut overall funding by $300,000, as requested by the President.

Within the NIH, the subcommittee also followed the President’s proposed budget, providing $1.394 billion for the National Institute of Mental Health, a 0.48% decrease from FY 2006, and $1.257 billion for the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, a 0.58% decrease from FY 2006. Accordingly, funding for autism research would decline from $102 million in FY 2006 to $101 million in FY 2007, if the House bill’s funding levels eventually become law. 

The Senate has not yet taken action on appropriations for NIH or CDC. Final funding levels will be determined by a House-Senate conference committee, most likely after the November elections. 



June 23, 2006 


The Combating Autism Act. During the past week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) joined as a cosponsor of the Senate bill (S. 843). Senator Harkin is a member of the committee that has jurisdiction over the bill (the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee). He also holds the important position of Ranking Minority Member of the appropriations subcommittee that develops the annual spending bill to fund programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The Senate bill now has 40 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). The House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) currently has 130 supporters, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). 


June 30, 2006 


State legislation. Not all the action is in Washington, D.C.! There have been two exciting legislative developments at the state level in the past 10 days. 

On June 20, the New York legislature approved a bill (A699-B) that would provide insurance parity for individuals with autism by prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for services based solely on a diagnosis of autism.

Currently, many health insurance plans in the state do not cover diagnosis and treatment of autism even though they cover treatment for similar neurobiological disorders. For purposes of this law, “autism” is defined as “a neurobiological condition that includes autism, Asperger syndrome, Rett’s syndrome, or pervasive developmental disorder.”

The bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer (23rd Assembly District, Queens), and now awaits the Governor’s signature. 

On June 23, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed a law (Public Act 094-0906) mandating that all state and local insurance plans, as well as private insurance plans offered by many employers, pay for the treatment of pervasive developmental disorders.

It also requires group health benefit plans to provide coverage for 20 additional outpatient visits for speech therapy than otherwise provided. The law takes effect immediately, and as plans are renewed over the course of the next year, the additional coverage will be included in the new policies. The measure (originally bill HB 4125) was sponsored by Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Highwood). 

The Combating Autism Act. At this time, the Senate bill (S. 843) has 40 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). The House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) currently has 130 supporters, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). 


July 14, 2006 

The Combating Autism Act. On Wednesday, the staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released its re-draft of the Combating Autism Act (S. 843). The bill is expected to be considered by the committee in a “mark-up” on July 19. The bill would authorize spending of nearly $1 billion over five years for autism research, education and awareness; increase agency accountability for autism research expenditures; and establish new Centers of Excellence in Environmental Health, which would be charged with conducting research “related to a broad array of environmental factors that may have a possible role in autism spectrum disorders.” 

The bill gained a new cosponsor this week, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), bringing the total number of Senate supporters to 41, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT).

The House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) gained two new cosponsors this week – Representatives Thomas Allen (D-ME-1) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL-23), bringing the total number of House supporters to 134, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). 


July 20, 2006


The Combating Autism Act Approved by Senate Committee

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions unanimously approved the Combating Autism Act (S. 843), as it had been amended in negotiations prior to this mark-up. Thus, the next step for the bill is consideration by the full Senate, which is expected to occur in late July or early August. It is hoped that the House will take up the Senate-passed bill in September or October. 

Autism Speaks supports this bill, which will significantly enhance autism research, surveillance and screening. Among other things, it would authorize spending of nearly $1 billion over five years for autism research; increase agency accountability for autism research expenditures; and establish new Centers of Excellence in Environmental Health, which would be charged with conducting research related to a broad array of environmental factors that may have a possible role in autism spectrum disorders. 

It is expected that language in the committee report accompanying the bill, and statements made in the Congressional Record when the bill is considered on the Senate Floor, will convey congressional intent that vaccines and their preservatives should be considered such environmental factors. 

The House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) gained two new cosponsors this week – Representatives Jim McDermott, (D-WA-7) and Lee Terry (R-NE-2) – bringing the total number of House supporters to 136, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). The Senate bill currently has 41 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). 

Arizona Approves $9.6 million for Autism Research, Services 


The Arizona Legislature and Governor Janet Napolitano recently approved two separate measures bringing a total of $9.6 million to autism research and support services


July 27, 2006


Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. As reported in June, the House of Representatives passed a FY 2007 Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations bill that includes $7.5 million for autism research. The Senate version of the bill is not expected to include this funding, however, since it was not included in the Defense Appropriations bill reported out of committee last week. Therefore, advocates must work to get the House-Senate conference committee to include the House provision in its “conference report” (House-Senate compromise bill).

Combating Autism Act. As indicated in last week’s update, an amended version of the Senate Combating Autism Act (S. 843) was approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on July 19. Since then it has gained a new Senate cosponsor – Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) – for a total of 42 supporters, including original sponsors Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). Given the bill’s broad bipartisan support in the Senate, it is hoped that Senate passage will be forthcoming.

The next step will be House consideration of the bill. Therefore, advocates must work hard to increase the number of cosponsors of the House bill (H.R. 2421), aiming for a majority of 218 Representatives. So far, there are 141 House supporters, including original sponsors Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO).

Five new cosponsors signed on since the last update – Representatives Daniel Lungren (R-CA-3), Charles Pickering (R-MS-3), Adam Putnam (R-FL-12), Jim Ramstad (R-MN-3), and David Scott (D-GA-13). 


August 4, 2006 


Combating Autism Act. The Senate approved this landmark legislation on August 3. The bill, which now goes before the House of Representatives, would nearly double federal spending on autism.

The bill was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent. In introducing the bill for consideration on the Senate floor, co-sponsors Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) both thanked Autism Speaks co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright for their tireless efforts in support of the legislation.


August 25, 2006


Florida Volunteers Visit with Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Bill Young about Autism Research Funding 


The August congressional recess is actually a “district work period” for Members of Congress because it gives them a chance to spend time with constituents at home. Several Florida volunteers took advantage of this opportunity to have a personal meeting with Representative C. W. Bill Young (R-FL-10th) on August 22. 

As Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Mr. Young’s support was critical in getting $7.5 million allocated for autism research in the House version of the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations bill. This is the first time that the bill has designated funding for autism research, although the Department of Defense funds research on a number of other medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, juvenile diabetes, epilepsy, and breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. 

Autism Speaks Regional Director for Central/West Florida, Jennifer Robinson, arranged the meeting so that she and several other constituents could thank Mr. Young for his support of autism research. They also urged him to work hard to preserve autism research funding in the final version of the bill, which must be negotiated “in conference” with the Senate. The Senate version of the bill does not include any funding for autism research. 

Mr. Young was very receptive as constituents described, first hand, the difficulties faced by military families who have a child with autism, and the pressing need for research to determine the causes and prevention of autism and the most effective treatments for those affected. 



Autism Speaks Board Member Ann Boeker Gibbons, Stacie Oliver of Senator Mike DeWine’s office, and DeWine constituent Justin Boeker

September 7, 2006 


Combating Autism Act. Autism Speaks and other groups continue to work toward passage this year of the Combating Autism Act. Toward that end, we are seeking additional cosponsors for the House version of the bill (H.R. 2421), which currently has 141 cosponsors.

Autism Research Through the Department of Defense.

 In recognition of the special challenges to military families who have a child with autism, the House of Representatives has included $7.5 million dedicated to autism research in the Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate version of the bill, however, does not include any funding for autism research. Within the next few weeks, a House-Senate “conference committee” will negotiate a final, compromise bill. 

Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) have agreed to circulate a letter for signature by their Senate colleagues that will urge Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (D-HI) to accept the House funding level for autism research. Senator DeWine agreed to circulate this letter after a visit to his staff from Toledo, Ohio, constituent Justin Boeker, grandfather of a child with autism, and Autism Speaks Board Member Ann Boeker Gibbons

Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) are circulating a similar letter in the House, to be sent to House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman C. W. Bill Young (R-FL) and Ranking Member John Murtha (D-PA).


September 22, 2006 

Combating Autism Act. Autism Speaks and other groups continue to work toward passage this year of the Combating Autism Act. Toward that end, we are seeking to get 218 Representatives (a majority of the House) to cosponsor the House version of the bill (H.R. 2421). 

As of September 22, 2006, the bill had 189 cosponsors, so we need to get only 29 more.

Autism Research Through the Department of Defense. In recognition of the special challenges to military families who have a child with autism, the House of Representatives has included $7.5 million dedicated to autism research in the Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate version of the bill, however, does not include any funding for autism research. Within the next few weeks, a House-Senate “conference committee” will negotiate a final, compromise bill. 

Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) circulated a letter for signature by their Senate colleagues to urge Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (D-HI) to accept the House funding level for autism research. The letter was signed by a total of 18 Senators of both parties. 

Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) circulated a similar letter in the House, which was sent to House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman C. W. Bill Young (R-FL) and Ranking Member John Murtha (D-PA). That letter was signed by 43 Representatives of both parties.


September 29, 2006 Combating Autism Act In Jeopardy. 

The refusal of House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) to move the Combating Autism Act (S.843) from his committee and bring it to the floor for a vote prior to the pre-election recess is a devastating blow to people with autism and their families. However, the fight for this critical legislation continues

Autism Research Through the Department of Defense –GREAT NEWS.

A House-Senate conference committee has decided to include $7.5 million dedicated to autism research in the FY 2007 Defense appropriations bill. The bill should be heading to the President’s desk shortly. The conference committee accepted the full amount that the House had provided in its version of the bill. The Senate bill had not provided any funding for autism research. 


Several Senators and Representatives should be thanked for their leadership, and many more for their support. Those who were most instrumental in getting this funding were Representatives C. W. “Bill” Young (R-FL), John Murtha (D-PA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); and Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

The autism research funds will be distributed through an ongoing Department of Defense medical research program, which also funds research on a number of other medical conditions, including breast, prostate and ovarian cancer, juvenile diabetes, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease.


October 12, 2006


Your Action Still Needed on the Combating Autism Act.
 Grassroots volunteers are continuing to work hard to save the Combating Autism Act.

As reported last week, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) refused to move the Senate-passed Combating Autism Act (S.843) from his committee prior to the pre-election congressional recess. Rep. Barton or House leadership could still bring the bill to the House Floor during the “lame-duck” session of Congress after the elections, but they need to keep hearing from their Republican colleagues and constituents.

Please call your own Representative, Chairman Barton, and House leadership to let them know how important this is to you

(If you have already done so, thank you! Please follow up with your own Representative to see if he or she has contacted Rep. Barton and House leaders. Capitol switchboard: 202-225-3121.)


October 19, 2006 

Autism families and the media demand action on the Combating Autism Act, pressuring Joe Barton to bring the bill to the floor.

Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has come under increasing pressure to allow the Combating Autism Act to move to the House Floor.

Both the House version of the bill (H.R. 2421) and the Senate-passed version (S. 843) have been referred to his committee. Autism Speaks has been pushing for the House to consider the Senate-passed version of the bill this year, but Barton has been an obstacle. (He wants his House-passed National Institutes of Health reauthorization bill to be approved by the Senate first.) 

The best way to pressure Chairman Barton and House leaders is through their House colleagues. Please ask your Representative to contact Chairman Barton, Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) about moving the Combating Autism Act this year. You can call through the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121

If you have called already, please follow up to see if your Representative has contacted Barton, Boehner and Hastert. 

You should also contact Chairman Barton, and House leaders yourself. You can reach all of them through the Capitol switchboard (202-225-3121).


November 13, 2006 


Democrats Take the Majority in the House and Senate – What does this mean for the Combating Autism Act?

As a result of the recent election, the Congress that convenes in January will have a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and a 51-49 Democratic majority in the Senate (assuming that the two Independents join the Democratic caucus, as expected). 

Accordingly, the chairs of congressional committees in both bodies will be Democrats. In the House, John Dingell (D-MI) is expected to replace Joe Barton (R-TX) as the Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over the Combating Autism Act (CAA). Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) is expected to replace Michael Enzi (R-WY) as the Chairman of the CAA’s committee of jurisdiction, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Senator Santorum, sponsor of the CAA in the Senate, was not reelected to serve in the next Congress. 

Do the election results change the strategy for the CAA? 

In short, no. Due to the autism community’s pressure on Chairman Barton, he is open to serious negotiations, which are ongoing. If a good bill can be achieved during the remainder of this Congress (which reconvenes on November 13), then the CAA could become law by 2007. 

In any case, we will not settle for a bill that does not achieve the goals of the CAA (including provisions to ensure that federal research dollars are well-directed, with greater “consumer” input and agency accountability). If we cannot achieve the goals of the autism community this year, then our efforts to pass the CAA will recommence with the new Congress in January. 

Would it be better to wait until the Democrats take over, in hopes of getting a better bill? 

As explained below, it is not likely that the CAA could pass quickly in the new Congress. If the autism community must continue to devote its efforts to the CAA next year, work on legislation to improve access to treatment and services would be substantially delayed. 

In the new Congress, the CAA would have to be reintroduced, cosponsors would have to be solicited anew, and the bill will have to vie with many other bills for committee consideration. There is no guarantee that the bill would be a high priority for the new Congress, so it could easily be another year before the CAA reaches its current point in the legislative process (approved by the Senate and under active negotiation for Floor consideration in the House, with a positive outlook for reconciling the two bills in conference). Moreover, there is no guarantee that content of the bill would be substantially better than a bill negotiated during the lame-duck session this year. 

A final note: It is important to understand that the CAA, like most “authorizing” legislation, does not actually provide funding. Although authorizing legislation is important in directing the government’s activities, actual funding levels for those activities are determined by the annual appropriations process. The autism community needs to work hard each year to make sure that autism research receives the funding levels it deserves during the appropriations process. Enactment of the CAA now would strengthen our position in the competition for scarce funds next year.


Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.




Note/Warning:

Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.


The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.


Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.




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One Reply to “Archived | The Washington Report: An Inside Look At Autism Speaks Advocacy In The Nation’s Capitol | Circa 2006 #NotAnAutisticAlly”

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