Senators urge Administration to prioritize programs that provide energy assistance for low-income households
Washington, D.C. – Seeking to help vulnerable populations afford their heating and cooling costs during months of extreme temperatures, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) authored a bipartisan letter urging the Administration to include funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) programs in the fiscal year 2020 budget proposal. Senators Collins and Reed lead the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD). Their letter was signed by 44 of their colleagues, including Senator Angus King (I-ME).
“LIHEAP helps these low-income households with their energy bills, providing an indispensable lifeline during both the cold winter and hot summer months” the Senators wrote. “More than 71 percent of LIHEAP recipients have at least one household member who is a child under the age of six, a senior, or an individual with a disability. This program helps to ensure that eligible recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities like food and medicine. This is especially important during the peak winter heating and summer cooling seasons, when energy bills can comprise more than 30 percent of a low-income household’s monthly income. Unfortunately, the number of households eligible for LIHEAP assistance continues to exceed the program’s capacity.”
“WAP is another critical program, which for more than 40 years has helped to reduce the burden of high home energy prices for over 7.4 million low-income households,” the Senators continued. “By supporting lasting and cost-effective home energy efficiency improvements for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, WAP is increasing the energy efficiency of people’s homes, reducing residential energy bills, improving the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens, and helping to lower the need for short-term assistance. WAP has been repeatedly demonstrated as cost-effective with every $1 invested in weatherization returning over $4 in benefits. WAP has also supported thousands of high quality, skilled jobs as well as local small businesses. A study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that weatherization saves eligible single-family homes on average $283 in annual energy cost savings, which benefits not only the household but also boosts the local economy. And in cold weather states, weatherization has reduced heating bills by 30 percent on average.”
Other Senators who signed the letter include: Ed Markey (D-MA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Udall (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Angus King (I-ME), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Click HERE for the full text of the letter.