Senate passes autism bill

The Senate passed a bill Thursday night that reauthorizes federal support for autism programs.

The Autism CARES Act, H.R. 4631, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate an official to oversee national autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. It also extends autism education programs through 2019.

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“The Senate’s action today ensures these vital autism programs are reauthorized and continue providing research, services and supports individuals with autism and their families have come to rely on,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said. “The Autism CARES Act is a model of bipartisan, bicameral cooperation – and I am proud I was able to work on it and look forward to seeing the President sign this critical legislation into law.”

The House passed the measure by voice vote last month and the Senate agreed to it through a unanimous consent agreement. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

The Senate also passed H.R.3548, the Improving Trauma Care Act, which amends the Public Health Service Act to include in the definition of "trauma" as injuries related to thermal, electrical, chemical, or radioactive forces.

The House also passed this bill last month, so it too heads to Obama’s desk.

Before adjourning for the evening, the Senate also confirmed by voice vote the following nominations: 

- John Tefft to be U.S. ambassador to Russian.

- Laura Junor to be a Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense.

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