WASHINGTON–With temperatures dropping, gas and electricity bills mounting, and COVID-19 infection rates still out of control, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are joining U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and 41 Senators in calling on Senate leadership to include a significant boost for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the next pandemic relief package. LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills by providing payment and/or energy crisis assistance. The program is administered by local community action agencies.

“The LIHEAP program is well-positioned to quickly respond to, and support the needs of, millions of American households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic who are struggling to heat their homes this winter and cool their homes next summer,” the Senators wrote. “State energy officials have reported that they are ready to move additional LIHEAP funds quickly and have identified a need for an additional $10 billion to serve 11 million families, including newly-eligible households.”

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LIHEAP has bipartisan support and a proven track record of effectively administering federal funds to qualified households. In their letter, the Senators wrote that the program is critical to keeping people safe, stopping the spread of COVID-19 and preventing many Americans from having their utilities shutoff and accumulating debts they can’t afford to pay.

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The Senators continued, “LIHEAP assistance is an indispensable lifeline, helping to ensure that recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities like food and medicine. Yet the annual funding for LIHEAP is only able to provide benefits to approximately one in six eligible households. We appreciate the $900 million included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act for LIHEAP, but those funds are now fully obligated and additional funding is necessary to help the newly unemployed with their growing bills.”

Along with Duckworth, Durbin and Reed, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

A full copy of the letter is available below and here.

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