Leahy And Community Leaders Gather In Vermont To Defend Safety Nets Eliminated Under Trump Budget Proposal

Senator Patrick Leahy Monday joined community leaders at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity Weatherization Warehouse to assert strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s draconian budget proposal, which would dismantle essential safety nets for the most vulnerable Vermonters. 

Leahy said:  “This proposal is appallingly unbalanced.  It is out of touch, and it is shortsighted. We have made progress in recent years in helping Vermont families that are struggling.  Our poverty rate has started to go back down since the Great Recession, in no small part to these programs and the multitude of help that is offered, one family at a time.  But if Congress chooses to rubberstamp the President’s budget proposal there is no doubt that we will see more families go the other way – back into poverty.”

Monday’s event highlighted three programs that assist low-income Vermonters that would be eliminated under the Trump proposal, including the Community Service Block Grant Program (CSBG).  Federal CSBG block grants provide the state’s five community action agencies with operating funds to assist 50,000 low-income Vermonters with access nutrition, housing, financial counseling, and annual home heating assistance.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists families with the costs of their energy bills and weatherizing their homes, preventing countless families from having to make the difficult choice between food or warmth.  Last year, Vermont received nearly $19 million to help more than 21,000 households in all 14 counties of the state.  The Weatherization Assistance Program also has assisted in the weatherization of 900 Vermont homes in the last year alone.

Vermont Agency of Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille  said:  “Many Vermonters struggling to make ends meet rely on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to heat their homes and keep their families safe during the crucial winter months.  The program plays an integral role in maintaining family stability and improving health outcomes for our most vulnerable populations.

Jan Demers, CVOEO Executive Director added, “There isn’t a CVOEO Program that isn’t decimated by this budget. Community Action Agencies exist to support community well-being.  Instead of health, this budget is like one amputation after another.   This cannot be the last word in the federal budget for FY18.” 

The Trump proposal would completely eliminate these programs, tearing essential safety nets away from low income Vermonters and families around the country.  Leahy, the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has vowed to fight back against the ill-conceived proposal. 

You can read Leahy’s full remarks HERE

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