Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, led a letter with 30 of their Senate colleagues urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to swiftly release the $1.5 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding that Congress delivered in fiscal year (FY) 2023.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills by providing payment and/or energy crisis assistance.
Last year, Reed and Collins successfully led efforts to provide a total of $6.1 billion for the program in FY 2023.
Last November, the Biden Administration distributed over $4.5 billion of that federal LIHEAP aid to states.
In a letter to U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra the 32 Senators urged HHS to immediately distribute the remaining emergency funds to states so they can be disbursed by authorized, local non-profit organizations that deliver social services, community health, and housing assistance to low-income, elderly, and those with disabilities across the country.
“We write to urge the Department of Health and Human Services to release the remaining Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds as quickly as possible. This will ensure state LIHEAP offices can continue to help vulnerable households keep the heat on this winter and plan for the rest of the program year,” the 32 Senators wrote.
LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies. Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.
To date, for FY 20223, Rhode Island has been allocated $29.5 million and Maine has been allocated $42.5 million in LIHEAP aid.
In addition to Reed and Collins, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators: Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Margaret Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Krysten Sinema (I-AZ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Fetterman (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Full text of the letter follows:
February 14, 2023
Dear Secretary Becerra:
We write to urge the Department of Health and Human Services to release the remaining Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds as quickly as possible. This will ensure state LIHEAP offices can continue to help vulnerable households keep the heat on this winter and plan for the rest of the program year.
As the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, LIHEAP provides critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months. Over the past year, as energy prices spiked worldwide, LIHEAP has become even more important in helping families pay their energy bills without foregoing other household essentials, like food or medicine. To that end, we worked to secure an additional $2 billion in emergency program funding between the Continuing Resolution and the Omnibus – bringing the total LIHEAP funds for FY23 to more than $6 billion.
We are grateful for the quick release of more than $4.5 billion last November, which has already helped millions of families nationwide. Now, it is critical that the remaining funding is distributed as quickly as possible so it can continue reaching households in need.
We look forward to working with you on this critical program, and thank you for your attention to our concerns and those of our constituents.
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