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Shaheen, Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge Release of LIHEAP Home Heating Aid

Bipartisan Coalition of 31 Senators urge Biden administration to swiftly make LIHEAP funds available to states

(Washington, DC) – With colder weather around the corner and global energy costs projected to rise this winter, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter with a bipartisan coalition of 31 U.S. Senators urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as swiftly and at the highest level possible. LIHEAP funds New Hampshire’s Fuel Assistance Program.

The Senators, led by Senators Reed (D-RI) and Collins (R-ME), wrote that the federal LIHEAP funding is a crucial lifeline that assists low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes pay their energy bills and stay safe during the winter.

Shaheen supported the inclusion of $1 billion in emergency funding for the program in the short-term government funding legislation that President Biden signed into law last month. Under the law, HHS will also be able to advance states funding equal to 90 percent of their FY 2022 allocation. In addition to this $1 billion in emergency funding, the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding proposal includes $4 billion for LIHEAP, which is an increase of $200 million over FY 2022.

“Given the alarming increase in energy costs that is forecast for this winter, we worked to secure an additional $1 billion in emergency funding for LIHEAP in the recently enacted short-term CR. It is critical that this funding, as well as the significant base funding available under the CR, is distributed as quickly as possible so it reaches these households in time for the winter heating season,” the 31 Senators wrote. 

On top of the $900 million in LIHEAP funds allocated through the CARES Act in 2020, Shaheen worked to secure $4.5 billion for LIHEAP in the American Rescue Plan that was signed into law in March 2021 and provided $35,498,757 to New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen also used her role on appropriations and as a lead negotiator for the bipartisan infrastructure bill to push to increase LIHEAP funding for Granite State families, leading to the highest total of LIHEAP funding ever received in a 12-month period in New Hampshire history. Following the June announcement of electric rate increases approved by New Hampshire’s Public Utilities Commission, the New Hampshire Delegation urged the state to use the remaining funding secured in the American Rescue Plan to provide financial assistance to help Granite Staters afford their home energy bills.  

LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies.  Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources. Senior citizens and those receiving Social Security Disability or SSI benefits are encouraged to apply as early as possible, but applications will be open to everyone through spring of 2023 — or until the funding is exhausted.

In addition to Shaheen, Reed and Collins, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Angus King, Jr. (I-ME), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NM).