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House, Senate Approve LIHEAP Draft Bills, Set Tone for FY2016

This week, both the House and Senate Full Appropriations Committees approved the Labor, Health and Human Service (LHHS) Subcommittee’s draft appropriations bills. These approvals are indications of where Congress will likely set the FY2016 budget for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

 

“With stringent budgetary caps in place, the levels provided by these committees is a good start,” said Brandon Avila, Director of the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance. “However, it is still well short still of the $4.7 billion requested by a supporters in Congress and a bipartisan group of 87 mayors from across 20 states earlier this year.”

 

The Senate Full Appropriation committee yesterday approved a Labor-HHS FY2016 bill that included $3.39 billion for the LIHEAP, which matches this year’s enacted level and the President’s budget request. Meanwhile, the House approved on Wednesday its version of the bill in the Full Appropriations committee and provided $3.36 billion, which is $25 million less than the Senate’s version.

 

This week’s decisions come on the heels of the US Conference of Mayors annual meeting, during which the Mayors passed a resolution calling on Congress to increase funding and the appropriations of the Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) to $4.7 billion in FY2016. Since FY2010, LIHEAP funding has declined by 30 percent (from $5.1 billion in 2009 to $3.4 billion in 2015) as energy prices and demand for the program continue to rise. As a result, advocates for LIHEAP will continue to champion increased funding for the program on the Hill and in communities across the nation as the budgetary process moves forward.

 

New Senate Report Language on the Formula:

The Senate version Includes new language acknowledging that since FY2009 the appropriations bill has modified the statutory formula for allocating funds to states. The Committee directs the Secretary to submit a report, within 90 days after enactment, on the average home heating and cooling costs of low-income households by State and the average LIHEAP assistance payment to households by state.

 

The Committee also directs HHS in future budget justifications to provide estimated state allocations as proposed in the budget request, and, if different, based on the underlying statutory formula.

 

Summary of the House and Senate bill Language:

 

  • All formula Grants: Both bills Provides all of the funds to be distributed under the state formula grant. No Contingency funding.
  • Formula Distribution: The committees maintain the same formula distribution from the FY2015 bill.
  • President’s request: The committees do not include the new initiatives (Mandatory Trigger and Innovation Fund) in the President’s budget.

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