FEINGOLD, KOHL PUSH FOR SUFFICIENT ENERGY FUNDING FOR LOW-INCOME AMERICANS
Bipartisan Letter Calls On Budget Committee Leadership to Provide for Home Energy Assistance for Families, Seniors, and Other Low-Income Individuals
U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, along with a bipartisan group of their Senate colleagues, are asking the Senate Budget Committee to provide $3 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the budget for 2006. LIHEAP helps low-income families, disabled individuals, and senior citizens living on fixed incomes with high energy costs that are sometimes unaffordable. Since 1981, the number of households eligible for LIHEAP assistance has grown. While LIHEAP will serve an estimated 5 million households this winter, the assistance only reaches about 15 percent of the 32 million households that are eligible.
"With home heating costs steadily increasing each year, we cannot afford to see this energy assistance program go underfunded," Feingold said. "We need to take the opportunity to responsibly budget now for this critical assistance so families do not have to face the possibility of harsh winters ahead without adequate home heating."
"High energy prices should never force families to choose between heat and daily essentials, like food and transportation. That's why this program makes a real difference in the lives of Wisconsin's elderly and working poor families. LIHEAP is one of the most critically important federal programs we have, and I will continue to work to ensure that Wisconsin and other cold-weather states have the funds they need to help get families through winter," Kohl said.
Along with requesting $3 billion for next year, the Senators are also asking for advanced appropriations for the 2007 budget. Advance funding enables states to pre-purchase fuel and start planning for the winter heating season earlier. It also ensures that states provide timely assistance to low-income families who cannot afford to wait.