WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined his Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter to President Trump, urging his support for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget request that will soon be sent to the Congress. Both programs help low-income households pay their energy bills during the cold winter and hot summer months. Last year, LIHEAP provided nearly $155 million in assistance to Ohio.

“Extreme weather across the United States, including record-breaking cold temperatures in several states recently brought by the polar vortex, have once again highlighted the importance of affordable access to home energy as a matter of health and safety for more than six million low-income households, many of which include children, veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. LIHEAP and WAP have long enjoyed bipartisan support, and we hope that you will prioritize funding for both programs in your fiscal year 2020 budget proposal,” the Senators wrote.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Edward Markey (D-MA). 

Brown has long been a supporter of LIHEAP and WAP programs, previously urging both the Trump and Obama administrations to release funds for the programs. Brown also pushed back against President Trump’s proposed cuts last year.

Text of the letter to President Trump is included below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write in support of two successful federal programs, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which are currently helping to meet the energy needs of eligible low-income households across the country.  Extreme weather across the United States, including record-breaking cold temperatures in several states recently brought by the polar vortex, have once again highlighted the importance of affordable access to home energy as a matter of health and safety for more than six million low-income households, many of which include children, veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.  LIHEAP and WAP have long enjoyed bipartisan support, and we hope that you will prioritize funding for both programs in your fiscal year 2020 budget proposal. 

LIHEAP helps these low-income households with their energy bills, providing an indispensable lifeline during both the cold winter and hot summer months.  More than 71 percent of LIHEAP recipients have at least one household member who is a child under the age of six, a senior, or an individual with a disability.   This program helps to ensure that eligible recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities like food and medicine.  This is especially important during the peak winter heating and summer cooling seasons, when energy bills can comprise more than 30 percent of a low-income household’s monthly income.  Unfortunately, the number of households eligible for LIHEAP assistance continues to exceed the program’s capacity.     

WAP is another critical program, which for more than 40 years has helped to reduce the burden of high home energy prices for over 7.4 million low-income households.  By supporting lasting and cost-effective home energy efficiency improvements for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, WAP is increasing the energy efficiency of people’s homes, reducing residential energy bills, improving the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens, and helping to lower the need for short-term assistance.  WAP has been repeatedly demonstrated as cost-effective with every $1 invested in weatherization returning over $4 in benefits. WAP has also supported thousands of high quality, skilled jobs as well as local small businesses.  A study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that weatherization saves eligible single-family homes on average $283 in annual energy cost savings, which benefits not only the household but also boosts the local economy.  And in cold weather states, weatherization has reduced heating bills by 30 percent on average.

Thank you for your attention to and consideration of this important request.  We recognize the ongoing challenges facing the discretionary budget and look forward to working with you to support these vital programs and ensuring access to affordable home energy for the most vulnerable households in every state.

 

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA)

 

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