Washington, DC – Today, the Senate agreed to an omnibus spending bill to keep the United States government operating for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2017. The measure passed in the House Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 309-118. The spending bill does not include the Trump Administration’s proposed holdback of unallocated funds in the amount of $372 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and, as such, is considered a victory for energy assistance advocates and champions. Sources report that the Trump Administration will sign off on the measure upon passage. The current continuing resolution is set to expire Friday, May 5, at midnight.
Consistent with previous years, the omnibus spending bill continues the flat funding of LIHEAP at $3.39 billion per fiscal year. At the time that Congress voted on the spending bill, $3.0 billion of LIHEAP’s allocated funds had been released to states via block grants. Per this week’s spending bill, the remaining funds will be released in accordance with the LIHEAP formula that is determined by the US Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the program.
Across the country, millions of households rely on LIHEAP funds to temporarily assist with paying their heat and electric bills. These bills tend to skyrocket in very cold months, when more heat and energy are required to keep homes safe and warm, as well as in very hot months, when it is costly to cool homes.
“In the face of uncertain times for seasonal programs like LIHEAP, we consider this a win,” said Michael Bracy, Director of the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance. “Preserving LIHEAP funds is critical to families here in Washington, DC, and other communities across the country. We know that LIHEAP makes a huge impact on the families that rely on it for temporary assistance, and we are encouraged by Congress’s decision to support the program. We look forward to continued partnership and increased conversation with leaders about the vital importance of LIHEAP.”
The Campaign will continue to engage with policymakers and energy assistance advocates across the country to ensure the highest possible funding levels for FY2018 and beyond. Recently, the Campaign completed a ‘mail drop,’ during which Campaign staff and supporters hand-delivered hundreds of LIHEAP packets to House and Senate offices.
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