About 80 people from families with a child on the autism spectrum staged a peaceful protest outside a political fundraiser in Richardson, Texas, attended by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the Associated Press reported. The families were there to urge Hastert to press Joe Barton, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, to let the House vote on the Combating Autism Act bill, which Barton so far has refused to do. (Read more about the situation here.) Hastert did not meet with the families but he told the Associated Press that he planned to meet supporters of the bill in Washington.
Supporters of the autism bill, which would provide about $900 million for research into causes and treatments and fund some programs, have been pressuring Barton in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 7 election. This Dallas Morning News story describes the efforts of supporters of the autism bill, and another bill related to breast cancer research, to get Barton's attention on the matter.
A dramatic and personal display of one family's effort to get a meeting is available at this video from YouTube.com that's getting a lot of attention among autism parents. See below as "Mikebtexas," who tries to get admitted to a meeting Barton is holding with families about autism, fails. It's a seven-minute video of one man's disillusionment in the political system; and it's a testament to the power of gate-keepers in a Congressman's district office.