WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and 38 other senators urged the Administration to release Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds and ensure Minnesota’s seniors and families receive critical heating during the winter months. In a bipartisan letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the senators requested that LIHEAP funding should be released quickly and at the highest level possible.
“No family should face the choice between buying groceries and heating their home,” Klobuchar said. “As the cold weather sets in we must ensure that this critical heating support gets to families as quickly as possible so that all Minnesotans can keep the heat on and their families safe.”
“Anybody who’s lived through a Minnesota winter knows that home heating is not a choice, it’s a necessity,” Franken said. “This type of assistance is crucial to helping ensure that families and seniors all across the state get through the winter without having to forgo food or prescription medication in order to keep the heat on. I urge the Administration to release these funds as quickly as possible.”
Since taking office, Sens. Klobuchar and Franken have successfully fought to ensure that tens of millions of dollars in emergency LIHEAP funding have been available to Minnesota families and seniors.
The full text of the letter is below.
October 31, 2013
The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Sebelius:
As state agencies prepare their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) programs for the winter, we respectfully request that the Department of Health and Human Services release LIHEAP funds as quickly and at as high of a level as possible under the current continuing resolution.
LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months. This funding has been an indispensable lifeline during challenging economic times, helping to ensure that recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for other necessities like food or medicine. On average low-income families and seniors spend a higher proportion of their income on energy, and for many states, October marks the start of the heating season, creating an additional constraint on these household budgets.
As the relevant state agencies begin to provide assistance for this winter, it is critical that they have the resources to assist low-income households and seniors as soon as possible. Therefore, we request that you quickly release LIHEAP funds and at as high of a level as possible in order to allow states and low-income households to prepare for the upcoming season.
We look forward to continuing to work with you on this critical program, and thank you for your attention to our concerns and those of our constituents.