WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter Thursday urging President Donald Trump to fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at no less than $5.1 billion in his upcoming budget.
Last year, President Trump proposed eliminating LIHEAP, “a proposal that would have deadly consequences,” Sanders wrote in the letter.
“Access to affordable home energy is not a luxury. It is a matter of life and death. In the year 2018, no American should go cold in the winter time or struggle with cooling their homes in the summertime,” Sanders wrote in the letter.
The letter comes at a time when the state of Vermont has used or obligated all LIHEAP block grant funds it has received to date, and when home heating oil prices have risen 36 percent over the last two years.
LIHEAP is the only federal program that helps seniors on fixed incomes, families with children, and persons with disabilities stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The program provides assistance to 6.8 million families in America including some 20,000 Vermont families.
- 17% of those Vermont households have young children
- 37% have an elderly member
- 48% of those households have a disabled individual
Funding for the program has been cut from $5.1 billion in FY 2010 to $3.39 billion today—a decrease of over $1.7 billion. The most recent data showed only 16 percent of those eligible for LIHEAP receive assistance.
In the richest country on Earth, we have a moral responsibility to make sure that no one has to make the unacceptable choice between putting food on the table, paying for their prescription drugs, or heating their homes this winter,” Sanders wrote.
Read the full letter here.