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Weatherization Assistance Program

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. REED. I thank the Chairwoman.

I know a major reason that the Chairwoman wants to get back to regular order is that continuing resolutions are blunt instruments that do not allow for the adjustments for specific programs. One place where that has played out is in the Energy and Water Development bill, specifically with respect to the Weatherization Assistance Program.

I know the chairwoman has long supported the weatherization program, which helps provide energy efficient retrofits to low-income individuals and families. It also provides jobs, which is so important given the continuing challenges in our economy.

President Obama described the program this way in an interview in 2009, ``[y]ou're getting a three-fer. Not only are you immediately putting people back to work but you're also saving families on [their] energy bills and you're laying the groundwork for long-term energy independence. That's exactly the kind of program that we should be funding.''

Under the Recovery Act, we made a one-time investment of $5 billion in this program, which has historically received $175 to $200 million in annual appropriations. As the program worked through this infusion, funding for the regular program was temporarily scaled back. In FY 2013, funding for the program will be only $68 million even before the sequester is applied. Since there will no longer be carry-over funds available, there will not be enough funding to mount a viable program in all 50 States. That is regrettable, particularly when the Senate bill contained $145 million, $6 million more than the budget request. It is also counterproductive to our goals to create jobs and increase energy efficiency.

I would ask the Chairwoman if she would work with us and the Department of Energy to find ways to sustain the program through appropriate reprogramming so that it does not cease to be a 50-State program. I would also ask if she would work with us in fiscal year 2014 to see how we can support this important initiative. Before I yield to the Chairwoman to respond, I would ask Senator Collins if she would like to comment.


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