Casey Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Restore Home Heating Assistance

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has cosponsored a bipartisan bill to support the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during the months with extreme temperatures.

“Home heating assistance provides vital help for Pennsylvania’s families and older Pennsylvanians while also generating economic activity in our communities,” Senator Casey said. “At a time when Pennsylvanians are watching every dollar to ensure they can afford necessities for their families, this bill will help ensure those struggling in this tough economy are able to keep the heat on this winter.”

With the ongoing difficult economic climate coupled with increased energy prices—such as the projected costs of heating oil this winter— Senator Casey has joined Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to introduce the LIHEAP Protection Act and avoid a drastic reduction in energy assistance to families across the country.

Last year Congress provided a total of $4.7 billion in LIHEAP funds for low-income households. But as part of its efforts to control federal spending, the Obama Administration proposed a 45% cut in LIHEAP funds from last year’s level to $2.57 billion in 2012.

The Appropriations bills proposed in the Senate ($3.6 billion) and House ($3.4 billion) only partially restored this highly disproportionate cut. Furthermore, efforts in the House to change how assistance is allocated would mean less aid for cold weather states like Pennsylvania. Senator Casey strongly opposes such changes.

This legislation, which will maintain level-funding for the LIHEAP at last year’s level of $4.7 billion, will help low-income households make ends meet by offsetting home heating and cooling expenses. According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), last year LIHEAP provided vital energy assistance to 8.9 million households—an increase of 54% since 2008.  NEADA projects a record 9.4 million households would be served in 2012.

Senator Casey has helped to secure support for LIHEAP in the past and has fought against cuts to the program. As he noted in a February letter to the Administration urging against cuts, economists estimate that every LIHEAP dollar generates $1.13 in economic activity.