Sept. 7, 2011: Massachusetts Delegation: Maintain Low Income Heating Aid for New England

BOSTON – Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, along with Representatives Edward Markey, Barney Frank, Richard E. Neal, John Olver, John Tierney, Jim McGovern, Michael Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, Niki Tsongas, and William Keating asked that heating assistance funding for families and seniors be maintained as Massachusetts faces a spike in heating oil prices and the prospect of a difficult winter.
 
In a letter to Senate and House Leadership, the Massachusetts delegation expressed their support for funding levels to be maintained for the Low Income Home Energy Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the FY2012 budget.
 
We understand that you are all facing difficult decisions as we near the end of the fiscal year,” the members wrote. “However, we are writing today in support of the Low Income Home Energy Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and to express our sincere hope that level funding for this critical program can be maintained.  Rising costs for home heating oil make it even more important that this vital program not be subject to draconian cuts.
 

The full text of the letter is below:

 

September 7, 2011
 
The Honorable Harry Reid                                         The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader                                                          Minority Leader
United States Senate                                                  United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                            Washington, D.C. 20510
 
The Honorable John Boehner                                     The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker                                                                       Minority Leader
House of Representatives                                           House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510                                            Washington, D.C. 20510
 
Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi,
 
We understand that you are all facing difficult decisions as we near the end of the fiscal year.  However, we are writing today in support of the Low Income Home Energy Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and to express our sincere hope that level funding for this critical program can be maintained.  Rising costs for home heating oil make it even more important that this vital program not be subject to draconian cuts.
 
The Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal submitted by the administration earlier this year cut LIHEAP by almost half to $2.57 billion.  We respectfully request that as you negotiate any short-term Continuing Resolution or any final appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2012 you maintain full funding of LIHEAP at $5.1 billion.    
 
As we head into the fall, and winter seasons we must think about the neediest families, children and seniors.  Recent reports show that Massachusetts will face record high oil prices -   in August home heating oil was sold at an average of $3.73 a gallon in Massachusetts.  That is 31 cents above the national average.   In this weakened economy, too many Massachusetts families simply do not have the resources to cover this increase in cost – and no family should have to choose between food and heating their homes.
 
We all understand that an increase in LIHEAP funding this year is likely impossible given the budget constraints included in the new law to extend the debt limit.   We will do our part and continue to work as a delegation to try and find appropriate ways to help keep oil costs low and increase energy efficiency.  By maintaining level funding we can at least avoid a catastrophic winter and ensure that many families get the support they need.
 
We again request that you maintain you maintain full funding of LIHEAP at $5.1 billion in any short-term Continuing Resolution or appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2012 and provide vital heating assistance to those in Massachusetts and across the country.  Thank you for your consideration.      
 
Sincerely,
 
 
John F. Kerry                                                              Scott P. Brown
                                           
 
Edward J. Markey                                                      Barney Frank                          
                                               
 
Richard E. Neal                                                          John W. Olver                         
                                             
 
John F. Tierney                                                           James P. McGovern                
                                              
 
Michael Capuano                                                        Stephen F. Lynch
                                       
 
Niki Tsongas                                                               William R. Keating
                                          
 
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