Press Release Records
Press Release of Senator King
Maine Congressional Delegation Urges President to Release Withheld LIHEAP Funds
Release of reserved funds would help low-income Maine families to heat homes
Sunday, February 17, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Maine Congressional delegation today wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release any available overestimated funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that is currently being withheld. In November, Maine received $34.9 million in LIHEAP funding, which is ninety percent of Maine’s total $38.5 million allocation. The reserved ten percent, or $4.5 million, has been withheld by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address the potential impact of sequestration. New information indicates that withholding ten percent is a higher than necessary estimate and that an additional one or two percent of those funds could be released to Maine by HHS while still allowing the Department to meet its obligation in the case of sequestration. An additional one percent is equivalent to approximately $350,000 of assistance.
The delegation wrote:
“As we deliberate and work hard to address the federal government’s budget issues, people in cold weather states are facing a financial crisis of their own: trying to keep their families warm. For many decades the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has provided essential funds for the millions of low income families and elderly people who struggle each winter. This year is particularly difficult as families are facing both high fuel prices and record breaking cold.
“It is our understanding that HHS is withholding 10 percent of the funds to ensure that, in the worst case scenario, the Department would be able to meet the obligations of sequestration. Based on the latest information, however, we understand that this may be a high estimate for what is needed. We are requesting that you immediately release any available LIHEAP funding, in order to allow states to distribute this money during the coldest part of the winter heating season. Withholding more funds than are absolutely necessary could actually cost lives.”
See below for full text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President,
Crystal Canney (King) 202-228-1460
Kevin Kelley (Collins) 202-224-2523
Ed Gilman (Michaud) 202-225-6306
Willy Ritch (Pingree) 207-841-8400