Kerry, Others Urge Leadership to Maintain Funding for LIHEAP

The Obama Administration released their proposed 2012 Budget today, that would “trim or terminate more than 200 federal programs next year and make key investments in education, transportation and research.”

The plan is aimed at boosting the nation’s economy while reducing record budget deficits.

Among the targeted federal programs in the budget is Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), as I noted here a few days ago. Following up on my earlier post about the proposed cuts to LIHEAP is this from Senator Kerry’s office:

In a letter to Senate and House Leadership today, Massachusetts Congressional delegation member Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, along with Representatives Edward Markey, Barney Frank, Richard E. Neal, John Olver, John Tierney, Jim McGovern, Michael Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, Niki Tsongas, and William Keating asked that heating assistance funding for families and seniors be maintained in the FY 2012 federal budget.

“We all appreciate that difficult decisions have to be made this budget cycle to restore fiscal sanity and begin to tackle the debt,” the members wrote.  “However, this year Massachusetts, and many other parts of the country, have seen record breaking low temperatures and brutal storm conditions.  LIHEAP ensures that families can heat their homes, that senior citizens aren’t forced to choose between their next meal and staying warm, and helps those who live in the North East to cope with the winter despite record high home heating oil costs.” 

The full text of the letter is below:

February 14, 2011 

The Honorable Harry Reid                                      The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader                                                          Minority Leader
United States Senate                                                  United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                          Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John Boehner                                    The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker                                                                               Minority Leader
House of Representatives                                           House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510                                             Washington, D.C. 20510 

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi, 

We are writing today in support of the Low Income Home Energy Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and to express our hope that level funding can be maintained.  The budget proposal submitted by the administration today cuts the program to $2.57 billion which would be devastating for our constituents in Massachusetts.  We respectfully request that as you prepare the budget for Fiscal Year 2012 you maintain LIHEAP at its current level of $5.1 billion.      

We all appreciate that difficult decisions have to be made this budget cycle to restore fiscal sanity and begin to tackle the debt.  However, this year Massachusetts, and many other parts of the country, have seen record breaking low temperatures and brutal storm conditions.  LIHEAP ensures that families can heat their homes, that senior citizens aren’t forced to choose between their next meal and staying warm, and helps those who live in the North East to cope with the winter despite record high home heating oil costs.

By cutting LIHEAP at this critical time it is estimated that over 3 million American families that qualify for heating assistance would not receive it.  As it is LIHEAP is already underfunded.  We hear stories every winter from our constituents about the lack of assistance available and the difficulty they have heating their homes. 

We understand that increasing the LIHEAP program might not be possible this year because of the budget constraints but cutting the program in half would simply be devastating.   We hope to work with you to find a way to keep LIHEAP at level funding and to provide our country’s families with the assistance they need.

We again request that you maintain level funding at $5.1 billion for the LIHEAP program and provide vital heating assistance to those in Massachusetts and across the county.  Thank you for your consideration.       

Sincerely,

                                   
John F. Kerry                                                              Scott P. Brown
United States Senator                                              United States Senator 

Edward J. Markey                                                      Barney Frank                         
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress 

Richard E. Neal                                                          John W. Olver                        
Member of Congress                                                Member of Congress

John F. Tierney                                                           James P. McGovern               
Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress
Michael Capuano                                                        Stephen F. Lynch
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress 

Niki Tsongas                                                               William R. Keating
Member of Congress                                               Member of Congress

Last thoughts on this for now

I am wondering what our President is thinking on this one, because it’s really, really cold out there this winter and lot’s of folks are still unemployed in this recession — cuts to LIHEAP is just so… so… so… the other side of the aisle.

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