Senators Ask For Funding To Help People Pay Heating Bills

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. senators from Rhode Island and Maine are asking the Biden administration to quickly send money to states for the program that helps people pay their heating bills.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said Friday they're leading a coalition of 36 senators in urging the federal government to release funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program swiftly, at the highest level possible.

Reed and Collins said they're making the request now because winter is approaching and energy costs are projected to precipitously increase. The federal funding is a crucial lifeline that helps low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes, they added.

About 5.3 million households nationwide received assistance through the program last year, they said.

"This funding will help ensure that low-income families and seniors do not have to make the impossible choice between paying for heat and paying for food or medicine, especially with the sharp increase in energy prices this year," Collins said in a statement.

Last year, Maine was awarded more than $40 million to help nearly 33,000 households. Rhode Island received $24 million, plus a $30.8 million one-time boost for the program through the American Rescue Plan, and helped more than 26,000 households last year.

The senators wrote to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.