(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today announced Senate passage of a funding bill that includes increased funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which last winter provided heating aid to roughly 47,000 New Hampshire homes. The program was in danger of being funded at approximately $2 billion less than it was last year, but will receive full funding under the continuing resolution passed by the Senate today, which funds the government through March. Shaheen fought for a provision in the bill that would provide the program with level funding.
"Given the current economic climate and the rising cost of heating oil, protecting this critical source of heating assistance was simply the right decision for New Hampshire families," said Shaheen. "I'm thrilled that the program will receive full funding in this legislation and that thousands of New Hampshire households will stay warm over the holidays and throughout the winter months."
The continuing resolution now heads to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.
Shaheen has consistently advocated for increased funding for LIHEAP in recent months. On November 16, Shaheen sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that urged against cutting the program. On November 22 and December 17, Shaheen signed onto a pair of bipartisan letters (the first to the Senate Appropriations Committee and the second, to the Senate's Majority and Republican Leaders) also calling for the program's full funding.
Thanks in part to these efforts, language was inserted in the continuing resolution ensuring that HHS obligates the same amount of funding for LIHEAP this winter as it obligated during the same period in Fiscal Year 2010. If funding had been cut, New Hampshire would have been able to provide heating assistance to only half as many homes as it did last year.
More than half of New Hampshire families rely on home heating oil, and the price of heating oil is up roughly 12 percent from this time last year. The Energy Information Administration projects that the Northeast will spend almost 15 percent more for home heating oil this winter than last.