Blumenthal Pushes for Measure to Ensure Heating Assistance as Congress Considers Funding

(Hartford, CT) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today urged action and support for a bipartisan bill he has cosponsored to save funding for home heating assistance as Congress this week considers funding for the heating assistance program that serves approximately 117,000 households in Connecticut.

“This week marks a critical turning point in the battle to save heating assistance funding for 117,000 Connecticut homes at risk of losing it this winter. As temperatures continue to drop this winter, we cannot leave our seniors and most vulnerable citizens out in the cold,” said Blumenthal. “These resources are vital to the survival of thousands of families in Connecticut and it is unconscionable to gamble with their health and well-being by cutting this vital program.” 

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) temporarily assists low-income families with their energy bills which can become especially costly during the winter months. According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association, over 85 percent of homes in Connecticut that receive assistance have either children, a disabled family member, or seniors in the home.

The Obama Administration proposed cutting LIHEAP funding to $2.57 billion in its fiscal year 2012 budget. Appropriations bills in the Senate and House have proposed $3.6 billion and 3.4 billion, respectively, for the 2012 fiscal year. The LIHEAP Protection Act, cosponsored by a bipartisan coalition, would protect funding for the program and maintain it at last year’s appropriations level of $4.7 billion. The bill was originally introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

It is estimated that heating assistance will be increasingly important this year as heating costs are expected to rise an additional $500 per household in New England.