WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today fought to ensure Minnesota seniors and families can keep their heat on during the winter months. In a bipartisan letter to President Obama, Klobuchar and 39 other senators called on the President to strengthen the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps Minnesota’s seniors and families receive critical heating support when they most need it.

“As winter sets in, no family should face the choice between buying groceries and heating their home,” Klobuchar said. “For many Minnesotans, LIHEAP funding is critical to ensuring that they can keep the heat on and their homes safe, and we need to ensure that this program doesn’t leave anyone out in the cold.”

In October, Klobuchar sent a bipartisan letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, requesting that LIHEAP funding should be released as quickly and at the highest level possible this winter. Klobuchar has 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.

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to request that you prioritize the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in your Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) budget proposal by including no less than $4.7 billion for this critical support for our least fortunate. 

LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months.  Energy costs are challenging for the budgets of American households.  In fact, according to a recent Energy Information and Administration (EIA) report, household expenditures this winter for heating oil and natural gas are projected to increase by 19 percent and 15 percent respectively.  While this constrains middle-income households, it disproportionately affects low-income households, many of which are seniors and on fixed-incomes.  Moreover, with Social Security benefits increasing by only 1.7 percent this year, or an average of $19 per month, many elderly Americans will be facing difficult choices to simply provide a basic level of comfort in their home. 

As supporters of the LIHEAP program we are very cognizant of the challenges that our discretionary budget faces in FY14.  However, we are deeply concerned that funding for the program has declined 32 percent in recent years to $3.47 billion last year at the same time the number of households eligible for the program continues to exceed those receiving assistance. As a result, we urge you to reprioritize this program in your FY14 budget and seek to restore funding to this indispensable program to a level of $4.7 billion.

We thank you for your consideration and look forward to working with you to address this important priority.