Contact: Eben Burnham-Snyder, Rep. Ed Markey, 202-225-2836

Sequester, High Oil Prices Trapping New England Families in Economic Storm

WASHINGTON (February 26, 2013) – With just days before the so-called “sequester” goes into effect that will significantly cut services to already-struggling American families, several House Democrats are trying to expand an energy assistance program that keeps families warm during the winter. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and four other House Democrats today reintroduced legislation that would allow for increased funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, and expand the program for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts families and millions of American families nationwide.

“Working families in Massachusetts and around the country will have education, health care and other essential services cut because of sequestration. During such a harsh winter, no family should also worry about heating their home and keeping their kids and other family members safe from the weather,” said Rep. Markey. “As American families face the perfect storm of falling temperatures, rising heating costs and arbitrary budget cuts to social services programs, the time for action is now.  This cold-hearted budget process shouldn’t leave our neediest families shivering this winter in their own homes.  My bill is a matter of simple compassion, and I encourage my colleagues to expand this program so we can protect Massachusetts and American families.”

Rep. Markey was joined on the bill by four original co-sponsors, Democratic Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

According to a report released earlier this month by Rep. Markey, the cuts from sequestration will reduce available LIHEAP funds in Massachusetts by $6.7 million this year. Cuts to the program nationally will total $177 million this year as well. These cuts come on top of the $1.6 billion in reductions to the program since 2010.

The Energy Assistance for American Families Act would increase the authorized funding level for LIHEAP to $7.6 billion per year for fiscal years 2014 to 2018, an increase of $2.5 billion over the last authorized level, enacted in 2005.

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