He spoke about Congressman Joe Barton (R) Texas single handedly holding up the Combating Autism Act already passed overwhelmingly by the Senate. He wants to tie the passage of the bill to reform of the NIH. NIH reform isn't a bad idea, but not worth risking delaying funding of autism research.
Combating Autism Act of 2006 Highlights:
Allocates approximately $900 million in spending on autism over the next five years. This is approximately double what would have been spent with straight-line continuation of existing programs.
Authorizes a 50% increase in spending for biomedical research in autism from the $100 million which the NIH currently claims to be spending.
Creates a legal requirement for Centers of Excellence in Environmental Health and Autism, to research "a broad array of environmental factors that may have a possible role in autism spectrum disorders." These Centers are authorized with funding of $45 million over the five-year life of the bill.
Requires the director of NIH to develop and implement a strategic plan for autism research and a budget to fund this plan, taking into account recommendations of a public/private committee (the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) which it requires to include at least one-third public members, including a person with autism and a person who is the parent of a child with autism. This new authority and accountability makes the director, in effect, the "autism czar."
Provides grant programs for states to develop autism screening, early diagnosis and intervention programs for children -- perhaps the most important thing that could happen, short of a cure.
For more about the Combating Autism Act of 2006, visit Combat Autism
A statement from their site reads:
Chairman Barton will not consider Combating Autism Act!
We regret to inform you that Chairman Barton stated this evening that he will not consider the senate passed Combating Autism Act this session. He remains steadfastly unmoved and unimpressed by over 200 House members and a unanimous Senate. Without regard to the merits of our bill or the desperate state of our children, he indicated he would not even consider it without passage of his NIH Reform bill--an impossibility this congress. In the end, his personal legislative agenda outweighed the needs of hundreds of thousands of autistic children. He would only consider a bill devoid of any NIH provisions, including environmental research, and we just couldn't accept that. Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Boehner have so far refused to intervene on our behalf.
Once signed, the Act would have joined a short list of "single-disease" legislation -- the most notable being the 1990 Ryan White CARE Act for HIV/AIDS, but unfortunately Joe Barton thought his fall break was more important than taking care of millions of children inflicted with this condition.
I urge each one of you to write a letter back to Barton's Offices and The Committee on Energy and Commerce members and demand an explanation of this action or call their offices one by one.
The Energy and Commerce Committee
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
2109 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3052 fax
6001 West I-20, Suite 200
Arlington, Texas 76017
(817) 548-7029 fax
2106 A W. Ennis Ave.
Ennis, Texas 75119
(972) 875-1907 fax
303 N. 6th St.
Crockett, TX 75835
(877) 263-2833 Toll free from areas in the Sixth District
For Autism Advocacy you can also see our good friends at Wapum.
I hope you all get involved in this cause. It truly makes me sick to think that our representative can be so heartless.