Administration Releases $200 Million for Heating Assistance

Jan 24, 2003
(Washington, D.C.)–Congressman Jim Langevin today lauded the Bush Administration's decision to release an additional $200 million to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the federal program that assists those struggling to pay for heating bills during the bitterly cold wintry months.  Rhode Island is slated to receive $2,052,509 of the emergency funds.

 In December, Langevin cosigned a letter to the President requesting the immediate release of more than $300 million in contingency funds. 

 “High energy prices affect all of us, but are particularly troublesome for low-income households and some senior citizens, especially during this sluggish economy,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.  “I am pleased the Administration has recognized the severity of this situation, especially in states such as Rhode Island where temperatures have been below freezing for over a week.  No Rhode Islander should have to choose between feeding their families or heating their homes.”

LIHEAP is a safety net for the millions of low-income, elderly and disabled households which receive its energy assistance to survive harsh weather conditions. Recent predictions suggest that this winter will likely be much more severe than last and that the number of households requiring energy assistance is likely to grow due to increased joblessness. 

In addition, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts a rise in household heating expenditures for heating oil, natural gas, and propane costs over the 2002-2003 heating season. Households will face much higher energy costs this winter just as more Americans are having trouble making ends meet. 

“The recent cold snap will bring unusually high heating bills, forcing many families to make difficult decisions,” added Langevin.  “I hope that this increase in LIHEAP funding will ease the financial burden as families strive to stay warm through single-digit nighttime temperatures.”

During the last session of Congress, Langevin cosponsored H.R. 683, the Emergency Energy Response Act, which would increase funding for LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

Langevin supported the restoration of LIHEAP funding to $1.7 billion for fiscal year 2003 and will work to maintain that level in the President's budget for FY 2004. LIHEAP is a crucial form of public assistance for economically distressed households, and it cannot be compromised.