U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, called on the leadership in the House of Representatives and the Committee on Appropriations to maintain or increase federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
"Thousands of people in Northeastern Pennsylvania rely on LIHEAP to stay warm during the winter months. With the lagging economy and the high cost of energy, I'm very concerned that the most needy in our communities have access to the valuable benefits LIHEAP provides," Rep. Barletta said. "We're barely into November, and we've already had unseasonably cold temperatures and a heavy snowfall. I worry about how the most vulnerable members of my district will be able to stay warm in what seems like will be a long, cold season. Keeping or increasing LIHEAP funding might save lives, and it's the right thing to do."
President Obama recommended slashing LIHEAP funding from the authorized $5.1 billion to $2.57 billion in Fiscal Year 2012. [Source: Campaign for Home Energy Assistance]
LIHEAP helps low-income families pay their heating bills, either in the form of a cash grant sent directly to the utility company or as a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat.
According to the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, the five counties of the 11th Congressional District (Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Monroe) were eligible for more than $21.5 million in LIHEAP grants in 2011. Statewide, more than 602,000 Pennsylvania households received LIHEAP assistance in 2010. Of those, more than one-third were elderly; 29 percent were households with a disabled resident; and almost one in five were households with a child under the age of 5.
Rep. Barletta is one of 88 members who signed the letter, which was sent November 3 to House Speaker John A. Boehner, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), and Appropriations Ranking Member Norman Dicks (D-Wa.) -- all of whom will play a vital role in crafting an upcoming FY12 omnibus appropriations bill. The letter urges LIHEAP be at least funded at the FY11 level of $4.7 billion.