With winter approaching, bipartisan group of 35 senators seeks speedy delivery of home heating funding to those in need
Washington, D.C. — As agencies prepare to assist low-income homeowners and renters heat their homes in the upcoming winter months, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) led a bipartisan coalition of senators in urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release funds for the their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as quickly as possible under the current continuing resolution.
In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Senators Collins, Reed, and 33 of their colleagues, including Senator Angus King (I-ME), urged the Department to release LIHEAP funds without delay and at as high a level as possible under the continuing resolution.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides eligible low-income households with help paying a portion of their heating and utility bills. Eligibility is based on a household’s combined income as well as the number of residents. Senators Collins and Reed have worked to block attempts to pare back funding appropriated for LIHEAP and secured $3.7 billion for LIHEAP in the fiscal year 2019 funding bill.
“Vulnerable Mainers rely on the LIHEAP program to keep warm during the 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. The Administration should move quickly to distribute these critical funds appropriated by Congress.”
“LIHEAP helps thousands of Rhode Island families stay warm and safe through the cold winter months,” said Senator Reed. “Children, Americans with disabilities, and seniors on fixed incomes shouldn’t have to choose between paying utility bills or forgoing essentials like food and medicine. LIHEAP is an effective program that provides a lifeline to Rhode Island families struggling to pay for their home heating needs. Instead of trying to eliminate the program or hold up assistance, the Trump Administration should swiftly distribute these funds to ensure it reaches those in need.”
“During a brutal Maine winter, heating your home is a necessity that cannot be ignored,” said Senator King. “Since Maine’s energy costs are among the highest in the nation, LIHEAP funding is a lifeline for families across our state, helping them stay warm without having to sacrifice other necessities – the Administration should disperse these funds as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities can get help paying their winter heating bills by applying for LIHEAP through their local Community Action Agency. Nearly 28,000 Maine households receive assistance benefits each heating season. The average annual LIHEAP benefit to Maine households that use the program is $918. Benefit amounts are based on each household’s income level, family size, whether they live in subsidized or non-subsidized housing, and the type of fuel used for heating.
In addition to Senators Collins, Reed, and King, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstsein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN). Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Click HERE to read the letter.