Washington, DC – This afternoon, the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee passed a spending bill including $3.39 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This vote reflects funding levels consistent with FY2017 and, for many LIHEAP advocates, is a welcome number amid the current Administration’s call to eliminate all funding for the program.
The Appropriations bill will move to the full committee for consideration. The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee is anticipated to take up their version of the bill shortly. Final FY2018 LIHEAP investment will be resolved in negotiations later this year between the House, Senate and Administration.
LIHEAP is an efficient, targeted national program that provides temporary assistance to qualifying households, especially those with seniors, Veterans, individuals with disabilities or families with school-aged children, who are struggling with poverty and cannot keep their utilities on during the extreme cold of winter or heat of summer.
“As champions of the program, we commend the House for recognizing the importance of LIHEAP and standing up on behalf of the program through this appropriations bill,” said Michael Bracy of the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates on behalf of LIHEAP. “However, our work cannot stop here. The upcoming Congressional recess is the perfect opportunity to continue the conversation with our Representatives and Senators at home.”
LIHEAP supporters have regularly called on Congress and the Administration to increase funding. The House’s proposal for flat funding is, in many ways, a victory for LIHEAP in an era of increasingly volatile negotiations and strained budgets. The proposed $3.39 billion funding level is enough to ensure the program continues in all 50 states, but it is not sufficient funding to expand the program’s reach to the millions of households that qualify for the program but do not currently receive assistance.
To encourage and further promote the conversation around LIHEAP, the Campaign regularly connects with Congressional offices to provide state-based information and snapshots of how LIHEAP impacts families and local communities. The Campaign will continue to engage with policymakers on Capitol Hill and LIHEAP advocates across the country to educate individuals, families and lawmakers about the importance of LIHEAP for millions low-income families. For the latest news and information on LIHEAP, visit www.liheap.org.