WASHINGTON, DC – Averting a government shutdown before the end of the fiscal year, the U.S. Senate today voted 72-25 to pass a short-term appropriations measure to keep the federal government operating on existing funding levels through December 16.  The short-term spending package, known as a “continuing resolution” (CR) includes emergency supplemental spending measures, such as $12.3 billion to aid Ukraine, $1 billion for the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and emergency assistance for states impacted by natural disasters.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, voted for the bill and led efforts to secure $1 billion in LIHEAP funding in the final package.  This level of LIHEAP aid is estimated to deliver nearly $7 million in support for Rhode Islanders to defray their home energy costs this winter.

“As Putin’s invasion of Ukraine continues to push energy prices higher worldwide, it is important for Congress to deliver relief to those hit hardest.  One way we can help seniors and families who are straining to pay higher utility costs is to increase assistance through LIHEAP.  I am pleased we were able to deliver this $1 billion in emergency funding for LIHEAP to help people in need,” said Senator Reed. “This funding, combined with the regular appropriation of LIHEAP dollars, will make a huge difference for people struggling to heat their homes.  Passing it now means states can plan ahead and quickly distribute it this winter.”

The federal government’s fiscal year ends Friday, September 30 at midnight.  Passing this short-term fix provides Congress with more time to complete its work on annual appropriations bills for fiscal year 2023.

In the most recent appropriations law, Congress provided nearly $4 billion for LIHEAP.  Passing this package amounts to a more than 25 percent boost for states distributing regular LIHEAP funds.

Now that the continuing resolution has cleared the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives must take up and pass the measure before it can go to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

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.

Rhode Islanders can apply for LIHEAP by contacting their local Community Action Agency, or going to the Department of Human Services LIHEAP Resource Page.