Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that $3.74 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and $305 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) were signed into law last night as part of the fiscal year 2020 appropriations package.
Senator Collins strongly advocated for this funding and secured an increase of $50 million for LIHEAP and $51 million for WAP compared to the previous fiscal year. Earlier this month, Senators Collins and Jack Reed (D-RI) sent letters to the leadership of two Appropriations Subcommittees urging them to provide robust funding for LIHEAP and WAP.
“The LIHEAP and Weatherization programs are essential to helping thousands of Mainers keep warm during the cold winter months,” said Senator Collins. “This funding will help ensure that low-income families and seniors do not have to make the impossible choice between paying for heat and paying for food or medicine.”
In October, Senators Collins and Reed led a bipartisan coalition of Senators in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release funds for LIHEAP as quickly as possible under the continuing resolution. In April, Senators Collins and Reed joined Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to introduce legislation that would reauthorize WAP through 2024.
In 2018, nearly 28,000 Maine households received assistance benefits through the LIHEAP program.
Since 2010, Maine has received $22.1 million in WAP funding and has been able to successfully weatherize nearly 2,500 homes and rental units across the state, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Senator Collins also secured report language encouraging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue coordinating its weatherization projects with its efforts to remove lead-based hazards from homes.