Washington, D.C. — The American Gas Association (AGA) is pleased to announce today that Congress has passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that will provide additional funding to states for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is a block grant program under which the federal government gives states annual grants to operate home energy assistance programs for low‐income households.
For the past two years, Congress has funded LIHEAP at the fully authorized level of $5.1 billion. This year, as a result of a delay in the final determination of the FY2011 budget, up to this point states have been forced to operate at a lower $3.3 billion level. Yesterday, the House and Senate voted on and President Obama signed a CR that will fund the government through March 4, 2011, which provides additional funding to states for the LIHEAP program and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to allocate the same amount of funding that was provided during this time period in FY2010 when LIHEAP was funded at $5.1 billion. Although this is not a guarantee that LIHEAP will be funded at $5.1 billion for FY2011, it does mean that LIHEAP funding will be greater than $3.3 billion in funding for the states.
“The inability of Congress to pass a budget for FY2011 has been disastrous for LIHEAP, especially at this point in the year when the temperatures have dropped significantly,” said David Parker, president and CEO of AGA. “Without this critical funding, more than 3 million low income households—nearly 8 million Americans—could lose access to LIHEAP. We are thrilled about today’s action, which will keep more of those Americans from having to choose between heat and other critical needs this winter.”
Parker added, “This program was created for the sole purpose of helping customers who struggle with home heating and cooling bills during times of extreme weather, and we are pleased to see a step taken in the right direction today to accomplish this mission.”