Democratic News

Jun 04 2002

Senate Presses President Bush To Release Emergency LIHEAP Funds

Families Hit Hard By High Energy Costs, Economic Slowdown

Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman has joined dozens of other Senators in appealing to President Bush to release emergency funds to help needy families pay their utility bills. “High energy costs place a severe burden on many households – families that already are suffering due to the slowdown in our nation’s economy,” Bingaman said. “Many people are feeling the pinch, and the summer cooling season has barely begun. We’re asking President Bush to help these citizens by releasing some, or all, of the funds that Congress specifically set aside for assistance.” The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is the primary federal program to help families struggling to pay their utility bills. Last year, millions of Americans relied on LIHEAP to help pay their heating and cooling expenses. Because of record demand for LIHEAP assistance this past winter, many states have spent 2002 LIHEAP allocations and do not have enough money left to meet the ever-growing need for assistance. So far, 14 states* have spent all of their allocation and have been forced to turn away, and put at risk, families and the elderly. “In the past, the President has voiced support for the LIHEAP program, and Congress allocated $300 million in contingency funds to be used at the Administration’s discretion,” Bingaman noted. “The President should show compassion by releasing money that Congress set aside to help these citizens.” # # # (* Oregon, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, Virginia, Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont and the District of Columbia.)