Vermont Nets $3.3 M. More In Home Heating Funds, As Vermont’s Congressional Delegation Keeps The Heat On Congress For Further LIHEAP Funding

WASHINGTON – Vermont’s Congressional Delegation – Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Congressman Peter Welch (D) – Friday reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is releasing $3.3  million more in home heating assistance to Vermont.  The Vermont lawmakers have been pushing for this funding and more, which they say Vermonters will need before the winter’s through.

The grant is part of a nationwide release of $2.68 billion in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding to help eligible families pay for the cost of heating their homes.  The funds are the second installment of regular LIHEAP block grants to be released this fiscal year.  Because Congress has not yet approved budget bills for the coming year, initial allocations from the agency were about 40 percent less than last year’s levels.

Sanders and Leahy have urged leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to fund the program for seniors and low-income families at last year’s $5.1 billion level and Welch has been urging the same in the House.

In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said:  “As many Vermonters prepare for the winter months ahead in this tough economy, we must do all we can to provide crucial, basic resources, like home heating, to those in need.  While this funding will help many Vermonters stay warm this winter, we are continuing to fight for additional LIHEAP funds in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget to ensure than nobody in our state is forced to face the choice between food or medicine and heat.”

Separately, Leahy, Sanders and Welch signed letters to the House and Senate Appropriations committees last month urging them to maintain the funding for LIHEAP at the Fiscal Year 2010 level of $5.1 billion.

After Congress doubled funding for home heating assistance in 2009, a record 8.3 million households nationwide received aid.  This winter, as a result of the lingering recession, many more families are expected to need help keeping the heat turned on.

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