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LIHEAP Supporters Visit Washington
Urge Congress to Restore Funding for Federal Energy Assistance
More than 100 NFFN members and other LIHEAP supporters fanned out over Capitol Hill on LIHEAP Action Day to urge members of Congress to restore funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
LIHEAP Action Day participants conducted more than 160 meetings with members of Congress or their staffs where they asked for support in increasing LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion for FY 2014.
The meetings were held on the same day that the White House proposed further reductions to LIHEAP funding for FY 2014. President Obama’s budget proposal called for setting LIHEAP funding at $2.9 billion.
NFFN Board Chair Marsha Belcher called the president’s proposal “disappointing” and pointed out that this is not the time to cut funding for this vital portion of the nation’s social safety net.
Throughout the day, LIHEAP Action Day participants made the rounds of Congressional offices to explain how important energy assistance is to the millions of Americans who are struggling to meet their home energy costs.
The day began at the offices of the American Gas Association, where Action Day participants received legislative updates and went over their schedule of meetings and ended with a reception in the Capitol.
During the reception Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu was honored for her continuing support for LIHEAP. Sen. Landrieu was named the recipient of the NFFN’s 2013 “Extra Mile” Award. This award is presented annually to the member of Congress who has demonstrated the willingness to go the “extra mile” to support LIHEAP.
To view more photos from LIHEAP Action Day, visit the NFFN’s Facebook page.
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu Named NFFN “Extra Mile” Award Winner
Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, the 2013Extra Mile Award winner, poses with NFFN Board Chair Marsha Belcher
The National Fuel Funds Network has named Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu the recipient of the 2013 Extra Mile Award for her support of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The Extra Mile Award is presented annually by the NFFN to the member of Congress who demonstrates the willingness to go the “extra mile” to support LIHEAP.
Marsha Belcher, chair of the Board of Directors of the NFFN, said “Since her election to the Senate in 1996, Senator Landrieu has been consistent and unyielding in her defense and support of federal energy assistance. As member of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee, Senator Landrieu has worked tirelessly to ensure that LIHEAP remains a vibrant national initiative, capable of helping the most vulnerable amongst us to heat and cool their homes.”
“We in the National Fuel Funds Network recognize Senator Landrieu’s important work for LIHEAP and the federal Weatherization Program. LIHEAP in particular is vital to at-risk Americans. It can, and does, save lives,” Belcher said.
In accepting the honor, Sen. Landrieu stressed need for LIHEAP adequate funding for LIHEAP so that the program can provide year round energy assistance. She said LIHAP plays an important role in keeping people in their homes. She said energy assistance is especially important during these difficult economic times.
The honor was announced during a LIHEAP Action Day reception in the Capitol. Earlier in the day more than 100 LIHEAP supporters met with members of Congress to urge them to restore funding for LIHEAP.
LIHEAP Action Day Statement
April 10, 2013
By: Marsha Belcher
Board Chair of the National Fuel Funds Network
Today is LIHEAP Action Day. More than 100 members of the National Fuel Funds Network and other supporters of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program are in Washington meeting with members of Congress to urge them to restore funding for the federal energy assistance program for Fiscal Year 2014.
While these important meetings are going on, we learned that President Obama has proposed reducing funding for LIHEAP to $2.970 billion in his FY 2014 budget. Speaking for the more than 300 members of the NFFN, I can say that we are very disappointed in the president’s decision to reduce funding for this essential program.
With poverty increasing across the nation and millions of people still struggling to recover from the recent economic disaster, reducing funding to this vital program is unthinkable. Over the last three years, funding for LIHEAP as dropped from $5.1 billion in FY 2010 to $3.5 billion for the current fiscal year, leaving millions of households without aid to help with them cope with their home energy costs.
The charitably funded energy assistance programs, which make up a large portion of the NFFN’s membership, cannot fill the gap created by reduced funding for LIHEAP.
Today as we are in Washington meeting with members of Congress, supporters of LIHEAP all across the country are demonstrating their support for this program through messages on Facebook and Twitter.
We understand that today’s actions are only the first step in the fight to maintain LIHEAP as an effective and efficient program. We will continue our vigorous advocacy for LIHEAP and will continue to work to keep funding for this program at a level where it can provide important assistance year round.
2014 LIHEAP All Parties Letter
The National Fuel Funds Network encourages your organization to support the 2014 All Parties Letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Appropriations Committees asking for $4.7 billion for the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help protect vulnerable households from America’s cold winters and hot summers.
An Open Letter to the
U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Appropriations Committees
To Increase Funding for LIHEAP to At Least $4.7 Billion in FY2014
Dear Senate and House Appropriators:
We are writing to urge you to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in FY2014. LIHEAP has a vital, life-saving role. If sufficiently funded, it will protect millions of increasingly vulnerable families from America’s cold winters and hot summers. A 2014 appropriation of at least $4.7 billion is necessary if this program is to continue to allow states and their charitable partners to continue to serve the growing need of America’s most vulnerable households.
LIHEAP is an efficient, effective program. It helps your most vulnerable constituents, including the elderly, many of whom are on fixed incomes, the unemployed, families with young children, and the disabled. Notably, fully 20 percent of LIHEAP households (1.78 million) contain veterans, including those recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and families of active duty service members.
To be eligible for LIHEAP assistance, families must have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level—less than $35,000 annually for a family of four—or 60 percent of state median income. The majority of LIHEAP recipients fall well below these thresholds and many LIHEAP-eligible households fail to receive any assistance because of insufficient funds.
In FY2009, when LIHEAP was funded at $5.1 billion, as many as 45 million households met LIHEAP’s federal eligibility thresholds. Yet, resources were only sufficient to serve approximately 8 million households. Since then, working Americans’ take home income has fallen and unemployment has increased. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression has driven unprecedented millions of Americans into desperately precarious financial straits and U.S. Census data confirms 15 percent of our citizens – 46.2 million Americans – are impoverished. Though the economy is improving, the need for a program like LIHEAP persists. Between FY 2009 and FY2012, LIHEAP's appropriation was cut by a third. Because of these cuts, states have been forced to reduce the number of households served, cut benefits, or both. We believe these reductions are too much.
We respectfully ask you to substantially restore LIHEAP funding in FY2014. While an appropriation of $4.7 billion is not enough to meet the full needs of vulnerable households, the program is much more effective at higher funding levels where LIHEAP truly becomes a national program serving the most vulnerable households in all regions of the country.
We know that Congress has made and will continue to make tough budget decisions – but continuing to cut LIHEAP funding is not the answer. We urge you to restore LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion in FY2014.