Sen. Olympia Snowe said Thursday the continuing resolution Congress will vote on to keep the U.S. government funded for the next six months has language in it that keeps funding for low-income heating assistance at last year’s levels, a development she said was encouraging for families who rely on the funds to pay their heating bills.
In a news release, Snowe said the funding measure, which the House and Senate are expected to take up in the coming days, has language in it to keep funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, at $3.47 billion.
Without that language, Snowe said, funding for LIHEAP would have fallen to $2.82 billion over the next six months.
The LIHEAP funds “will certainly help the many families who will struggle to pay heating bills as colder temperatures arrive,” Snowe said in a statement. “While we have ensured LIHEAP cannot face a Draconian cut in funding from last year’s level, we in Congress must continue to work to find additional funding for the program.”
Participation in LIHEAP has risen 54 percent since 2008, according to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association. Some 8.9 million households relied on the program in 2011, according to the association.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services allocated $38.6 million in LIHEAP funding to Maine last season.
On Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage signed onto a letter with 13 other governors urging Congress to fund LIHEAP at last year’s levels.
“LIHEAP is an indispensable lifeline for the approximately nine million households struggling to pay to heat or cool their homes,” the letter read.