WASHINGTON, DC – Early this morning, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled a short-term appropriations bill, often referred to as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the federal government funded at current levels until after the midterm elections as lawmakers work out a long-term government spending agreement for fiscal 2023.  The CR includes $1 billion in emergency funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Appropriations Committee and the leading Congressional champion of LIHEAP, helped include this funding.  He says this additional emergency home heating aid is critical to help states like Rhode Island assist vulnerable residents this winter.

Reed stated:

“This $1 billion in LIHEAP aid is a lifeline that will help low-income families and vulnerable seniors safe and warm during the cold winter months. 

“With home heating prices forecast to rise, it’s important for Congress to deliver this aid to states now so they can distribute it to those in need.  States have flexibility to use these funds and effective systems already in place to target them to people who are disproportionately impacted by energy insecurity.

“Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has disrupted worldwide energy markets, raising prices everywhere.

“Energy is a basic need, and without LIHEAP assistance, low-income families and seniors face the impossible choice between paying their home energy bills or affording other basic necessities, such as prescription drugs, housing, and food.  This emergency supplemental doesn’t cover the full cost, but every cent is desperately needed and will make a huge difference for people.

“This is a public health issue and Congress must act with a sense of urgency and bipartisanship to get these funds to those in need.”

Senator Reed, along with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), has led a bipartisan call for greater LIHEAP funding to be included in the CR

Annual federal LIHEAP funding levels are currently set to reach about $4 billion in fiscal year 2023.  However, more is needed as cost increases have decreased the purchasing power of LIHEAP dollars with the price of home heating oil nearly doubling in the past year and the forecast for electricity and natural gas projected to rise significantly.

LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies.  Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.

Nearly 26,000 Rhode Island households benefitted from LIHEAP last year, with the average annual LIHEAP benefit covering about $570 in winter home heating costs for Rhode Islanders.  Over 3,360 Rhode Island households also received LIHEAP crisis grants, which assist LIHEAP recipients when they have experienced a utility disconnection or are low on deliverable fuel and can’t afford to get another delivery.

Last year, Senator Reed delivered nearly $56 million to Rhode Island to help residents save on their home energy bills.