Leahy Secures New Funding For LIHEAP In Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Senator Patrick Leahy announced a $250 million increase to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill released Wednesday night.  The inclusion of funds not only rejects President Trump’s efforts to eliminate LIHEAP, but it brings total funding for the program to $3.64 billion.  Leahy said the new investment is estimated to secure $1.39 million in additional funds for Vermont, bringing the Green Mountain State’s total LIHEAP funding to $20.4 million in fiscal year 2018.

Leahy said:  “LIHEAP is a vital lifeline to more than 25,000 Vermonters who are struggling to heat their homes during the cold winter months.  This winter alone, Vermont experienced a cold snap that spanned several weeks, causing many Vermont households to burn through their fuel assistance faster than normal for winter heating.  And snowstorms both this and last week are stark reminders that winter is not over in Vermont.  Without this help, many would be forced to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table.”

Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a longtime advocate of strengthening LIHEAP, was a leading member in the months of bill writing and negotiations leading to Wednesday’s release of a year-long appropriations package.  

LIHEAP has proven to be one of the most effective safety net programs, successfully leveraging investments from all stakeholders in keeping families safe and healthy.  Despite this, President Trump repeatedly has tried to eliminate funding for the program. 

Led by Leahy, the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected the Trump proposal to eliminate the program during the Committee’s consideration of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill in September.  That bill was the basis for negotiations on this Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill must now be passed by the House and the Senate and be signed into law by the President.  House and Senate action are expected Thursday and Friday.  

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