December 22, 2011

Rahall, Rockefeller, Manchin Announce $8 Million to Help West Virginians Stay Warm This Winter

BECKLEY, W.Va. – U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), along with Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin (both D-W.Va.), Thursday announced the release of $8.2 million in federal funds for LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, to assist West Virginia’s most vulnerable households in keeping the heat on this winter.

“In too many cases, seniors on fixed incomes or working families who have fallen on tough economic times are forced to choose between keeping the heat on and putting food on the table, and that does not have to be,” said Rahall. “This Christmas season, this funding will be welcome news to households across southern West Virginia who are struggling to cope with the rising costs of heating and utilities during the cold months of winter.”

“I’m glad that families and seniors will get this critical home heating assistance as we hit the first day of winter,” said Senator Rockefeller.  “Nobody should have to choose between heating their home, putting food on the table, or paying their bills.  Unfortunately, LIHEAP still faced some cuts this year.  I strongly believe that we need to reduce the deficit, but not by slashing programs like LIHEAP that provide needed assistance to families.  That’s why I cosponsored a bill to fully fund LIHEAP this coming year and I will continue to fight to pass it.”

"So many people are struggling and doing their best to make ends meet, but sometimes the books don't balance at the end of the month - and too many seniors and families go without heat," said Senator Manchin. "That's just wrong, and it should be a priority for this country to make sure no senior of family has to endure winter with no heat. So I am pleased that this funding will help West Virginians keep their homes warmer this winter."

LIHEAP assists low-income households, including families with children and seniors, with their home energy needs such as heating in the winter, cooling their homes in the summer, and insulating their homes to make them more energy efficient and reduce their energy costs. 

The funds are awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are in addition to the $14 million allocated to the State in October.   

Rahall has been active in fighting for LIHEAP funds.  He recently urged the House Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the program to restore cuts to the program proposed earlier this year.  Ultimately, the Congress provided $3.5 billion, which is more than the President requested in his budget but less than the Congress provided last year.

“In these difficult economic times, as the Congress makes deep cuts in domestic spending programs, we must do everything we can to protect the safety net for working families and our most vulnerable households, especially those with seniors and children,” said Rahall.