In a letter to congressional appropriators, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-04), and Congressman Peter Welch (VT-AL) blasted President Trump’s proposal to remove critical funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to finance his administration’s response to the coronavirus. Citing his perennial efforts to slash funding for the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health, the lawmakers wrote that this president’s policies already left government officials unprepared to confront a growing outbreak and claimed that additional cuts will only create new health crises.
“We believe this request is simply insufficient to deal with the challenges our country faces in combatting the coronavirus,” wrote the lawmakers. “Furthermore, the manner in which the President is proposing to fund this effort, will only further harm the most vulnerable individuals and families in our community by robbing $37 million from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Not to mention this is in addition to the President’s already reckless efforts, including his most recent FY2021 budget request, to slash funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“LIHEAP is already underfunded and only supports roughly 20 percent of those families eligible for assistance. The program supports families with young children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities. Home heating/cooling is directly tied to the health and safety of these families. Leaving them in extreme cold or heat will only exacerbate critical health problems families may already be facing, or force families to choose between paying their energy bill or other priorities like putting food on the table. Leaving another 750,000 families without assistance is unconscionable and indefensible. We cannot solve one health crisis by creating another.”