Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today joined a bipartisan group of 46 Senators in urging Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell to release Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding as quickly as possible, to ensure more families can access the resources they need to heat their homes this winter. New York State has received over $300 million in LIHEAP funding each fiscal year for the last seven years. Similar funding levels are expected to go to New York State from the LIHEAP program under the Continuing Resolution in fiscal year 2015. New York State is the largest beneficiary of LIHEAP funds in the nation and more than 1 million New Yorkers rely on LIHEAP to heat their homes during the winter.
“Nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table and heating their homes,” said Senator Schumer. “With energy prices rising, and winter on the horizon, families and seniors in New York State need help when paying their heating costs. That is why I am urging the Department of Health and Human Services to provide critical home heating assistance funding to those in-need so we don’t leave these families and seniors out in the cold.”
“No New York family should ever be left in the cold,” Senator Gillibrand said. “But with the economy still recovering, too many New York families struggle to heat their homes and stay warm. I urge HHS to make this a top priority and release this funding to help every New York family stay warm this winter.”
LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months. Even though the number of households eligible for the program continues to exceed those receiving assistance, this funding has been a lifeline during the economic downturn and rising energy costs, helping to ensure that people do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for food or medicine.
Along with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand the letter to HHS Secretary Burwell was signed by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Walsh (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Full text of the Senators’ letter to HHS is attached.