The New England Council has long supported the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which provides critical assistance to thousands of New England households who struggle to pay for home heating during our region’s cold winter months. Year after year, federal funding for this program is at risk as Congress grapples with our nation’s fiscal situation.
This week, the Council wrote to House and Senate Appropriates Committee leaders to urge them to provide as significant a level of funding for LIHEAP as possible for the remainder of FY 2014. As Congressional appropriators finalize the details of the omnibus appropriations bill for the balance of the fiscal year, the Council specifically asked that they fund LIHEAP at the $3.6 billion level provided by the Senate Appropriations Committee in its FY 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.
The letter notes that New England is highly dependent on home heating oil, consuming approximately 75 percent of the nation’s home heating oil supply. New England is colder than most other regions of the country with a higher number of heating degree days, making it more expensive for families to heat their homes during the late fall, winter and early spring.
The Council also shared this letter with members of the New England House and Senate delegations, and encouraged House members to sign on to a letter to President Obama urging to propose no less than $4.7 billion for the program in his Fiscal Year 2015 budget request. Vermont Congressman Peter Welch has taken the lead in drafting the letter and many members of the New England House delegation have signed on.