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Congress passes Autism CARES Act, moves on ABLE Act before recess

While partisan arguments stalled important parts of Congress’ agenda yesterday, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass the crucial Autism CARES Act and advance the ABLE Act in the hopes of completing it after the August recess.

The Autism CARES Act, which the House of Representatives passed in late June, cleared the Senate yesterday and is moving to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. The CARES Act extends federal coverage of autism research and services by five years with $1.3 billion in funding. It recognizes the growing population of adults on the spectrum by calling for a report on adult and transition services. And in an ideological win, it will replace the Combating Autism Act, reflecting a healthier view of autism as a difference, not a disease. The Autism Society supported the Autism CARES Act along its journey through Congress, and we applaud legislators’ commitment to serving people with autism and improving supports across the lifespan.

As the Autism CARES Act was leaving the Senate, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved the ABLE Act, which would create tax-exempt Section 529 savings accounts for people with disabilities. The Autism Society has joined in the effort to support the ABLE Act, and we hope the bill will pass quickly through the House and the Senate when Congress reconvenes in September. With the cost of raising a person with autism estimated at as much as $2.4 million, families (and people on the spectrum) deserve help with saving money to pay for services.

Congressional support of the Autism CARES Act and the ABLE Act is a hopeful demonstration of increasing awareness and acceptance of autism, and of Americans’ desire to support those on the spectrum. We at the Autism Society appreciate the progress the Senate and the House made yesterday, and we look forward to the passage of the ABLE Act and the benefits our community will enjoy under the CARES Act.

About the Autism Society: The nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, the Autism Society exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people with ASD, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit