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Public Statements

Letter to President Obama

Senator John Kerry today joined 39 bipartisan Senate colleagues to urge President Barack Obama to protect New England families and seniors who depend on critical home heating aid to stay safe each winter.

In a letter signed by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, Kerry and his colleagues asked that funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) be kept at least at $4.7 billion, the 2011 funding level, for the next fiscal year.

"As you finalize your Fiscal Year 2013 budget request," the members wrote, "we ask that you take into account the great need for LIHEAP and the devastating impact cuts to the program could have on seniors and low-income families and ask that you restore LIHEAP funding to the Fiscal Year 2011 level."

Last October, Senator Kerry sent a letter to the President requesting $5.1 billion for LIHEAP in the President's FY2013 budget.

The full text of the letter is below:

President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Congress and the Administration confront challenging fiscal decisions, and we recognize that we will need to work cooperatively to address our country's deficit in a manner that will promote job growth and economic recovery. It is in this spirit that we write to urge you to ensure your budget submission for Fiscal Year 2013 contains no less than the Fiscal Year 2011 level of $4.7 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months. Even though the number of households eligible for the program continues to exceed those receiving assistance, this funding has been a lifeline during the economic downturn and rising energy costs, helping to ensure that people do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for food or medicine. Moreover, the funds invested in LIHEAP help stimulate the economy, generating $1.13 in economic activity for every dollar in benefits paid, according to economists Mark Zandi and Alan S. Blinder.

Americans continue to face challenging times. The U.S. Census recently reported that 46.2 million people lived in poverty in 2010, the largest number in the 52 year history of published poverty estimates. In addition, according to the National Energy Assistance Director's Association (NEADA), last year LIHEAP provided vital energy assistance to 8.9 million households, an increase of 54 percent since 2008. Even more striking is that the number of veteran households served increased by more than 150 percent during the same period. Indeed, the number of veteran households served by LIHEAP has increased from about 700,000 in Fiscal Year 2008 to 1.78 million in Fiscal Year 2011, which represents an increase from 12 percent of total LIHEAP recipients to 20 percent since 2008.

However, according to NEADA, your proposed 45 percent cut to LIHEAP for Fiscal Year 2012 threatened to reduce the overall number served by over 2 million households and ultimately your proposed cut has unfortunately been too deep to fully overcome in negotiations on a final funding bill for this fiscal year. As such, as you finalize your Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, we ask that you take into account the great need for LIHEAP and the devastating impact cuts to the program could have on seniors and low-income families and ask that you restore LIHEAP funding to the Fiscal Year 2011 level.

Thank you for your attention to and consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

Jack Reed Olympia Snowe John Kerry

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand Patrick Leahy Frank Lautenberg

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Joe Lieberman John Tester Richard Lugar

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Scott Brown Robert Casey Robert Menendez

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Charles Schumer Al Franken Mary Landrieu

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Debbie Stabenow Jeff Bingaman Richard Blumenthal

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Ron Wyden Sherrod Brown Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar Sheldon Whitehouse Kelly Ayotte

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Carl Levin Benjamin Cardin Chris Coons

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Mark Pryor Herb Kohl Barbara Mikulski

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Susan Collins Jeff Merkley Maria Cantwell

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Tim Johnson Bernie Sanders Daniel Akaka

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Mark Begich Jay Rockefeller Max Baucus

United States Senator United States Senator United States Senator

Tom Udall

United States Senator


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