Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today pressed House leadership to protect the vital Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) from further cuts if the automatic budget cuts in the so-called "sequester" go into effect starting on March 1. If sequestration goes forward, families participating in LIHEAP will face an additional $177 million in benefit cuts. That is on top of the $1.6 billion in reductions to the program that have occurred since 2010.
The letter was sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and the top two leaders of the Appropriations Committee, Harold Rogers (R-Kent.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)/
"Less funding, in the face of rising heating oil and natural gas prices, will have a devastating impact on millions of families already suffering through a slow economic recovery," write the lawmakers. "No one should have to choose between heating and eating this winter. Yet for low-income families, veterans, and seniors who rely upon this program across the country, this choice is too often their harsh reality. We must ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable families continue to receive help."
Last week, Rep. Markey released a report on the effects of the sequester on Massachusetts, finding that LIHEAP would be cut by $6.7 million