Congressman Chris Gibson led a group of 23 of his New York Congressional colleagues in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee regarding funding allocations for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). A draft version of the House Appropriations bill which funds LIHEAP includes a change in how the assistance is allocated, which would result in a $152.3 million cut for New York.
"LIHEAP funding is absolutely essential for New York State, particularly given the persistently high cost of home heating. This formula change, particularly as winter weather has already hit the Northeast, would cause a significant hardship for New York families," said Congressman Chris Gibson. "I believe it would be ill-advised to make any dramatic changes in funding over a month into the fiscal year. I am pleased to have the support of so many of my fellow New York colleagues in this effort, and we will continue to work as a delegation to protect this important program."
Signing the letter with Congressman Gibson were Reps. Richard Hanna, Michael Grimm, Bob Turner, Carolyn Maloney, Paul Tonko, Louise Slaughter, Jerrold Nadler, Charles B. Rangel, Tim Bishop, Gregory W. Meeks, Kathy Hochul, Edolphus Towns, Brian Higgins, Bill Owens, Tom Reed, Carolyn McCarthy, Ann Marie Buerkle, Eliot L. Engel, Maurice Hinchey, Joseph Crowley, Nan Hayworth, José Serrano, and Peter King.
Text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Chairman Hal Rogers, Ranking Member Norm Dicks, Chairman Denny Rehberg and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro:
As members of the New York State Congressional Delegation, we write to share our concerns with the negative impact the new Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) formula included in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies draft appropriations bill will have on our constituents.
As fiscal year 2012 has already begun and cold weather is quickly approaching, we believe it is problematic to put forth a formula change for LIHEAP allocations at this time. Under the proposed new formula, New York State will see a decrease of $152.319 million in LIHEAP funding for FY2012. Significantly altering allocations by changing the formula compared to previous years will make it difficult for states and users of the program to make the appropriate preparations or contingency plans for this winter. Given this challenge, we ask the committee to refrain from making a significant policy change over a month into the fiscal year.
We applaud the Committee for working with House leadership to restore a considerable level of openness and transparency to the appropriations process. Given that the full Appropriations Committee has not marked-up the draft legislation and Members will likely not have the opportunity to offer amendments on the House Floor, we ask that you take into consideration the concerns expressed above.