The Autism CARES Act now heads to the Senate after passing the House on a voice vote late Tuesday. (Shutterstock)

The Autism CARES Act now heads to the Senate after passing the House on a voice vote late Tuesday. (Shutterstock)

Congress is one step closer to renewing the nation’s primary autism legislation.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act, or Autism CARES, Tuesday evening by a voice vote.

The measure would renew what’s previously been known as the Combating Autism Act, which provides millions each year in federal funding for research, prevalence tracking, training for professionals, early identification and other autism efforts.

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The current law is set to expire at the end of September and all associated dollars and projects funded by the act will come to a halt if new legislation is not in place by then.

Under the measure approved by the House this week, $260 million would be authorized annually for autism-related initiatives through 2019.

In addition to renewing support for existing federally-funded activities, the bill moving through Congress would also provide for an autism point person at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and calls for changes to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. What’s more, the legislation would mandate a new report focusing on the needs of young adults and youth during transition.

The House vote paves the way for the U.S. Senate to consider the bill, which aides say could happen before the end of the month.