Skip to comments.Senate OKs $1B to Help Poor Afford Energy
Posted on 03/08/2006 10:21:17 AM PST by newgeezer
WASHINGTON -- The Senate has agreed to put an additional $1 billion this year into a program to help poor people with energy costs, but only after overcoming resistance from warm state senators who said those suffering from summer heat weren't getting their fair share.
The additional spending would increase to $3.1 billion the amount the federal government will have this year for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a decades-old program that subsidizes heating and cooling costs for poor families.
The legislation, which still must be considered by the House, passed by a voice vote Tuesday, but only after a lengthy debate between northern state senators, who said rising heating costs were creating a crisis in their states, and lawmakers from warmer states who claimed they were being shortchanged.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, D-Maine, sponsor of the legislation, said people in her state were going without food to pay for heating or, in more dire cases, being hospitalized with hypothermia. "Come to Maine and tell us about it being a mild winter," she said.
Snowe's original bill would have distributed $250 million under an existing formula that she said would mainly benefit warm-weather states. The remaining $750 million would have been labeled contingency funding and disbursed at the discretion of the president. The money was shifted from $1 billion that had been set aside for fiscal 2007.
But that wasn't acceptable to several of her Republican colleagues from the South and Southwest, who said that division would only exacerbate the program's traditional slant toward heating rather than cooling assistance.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said LIHEAP spending tends to be front-ended, with the money being used up in the winter months so nothing is left when the temperatures in Arizona climb over 100 degrees. He said the Arizona LIHEAP program reaches only 4 percent of those eligible for assistance.
Kyl said all the money should be decided by formula so that all states were guaranteed a fair share.
"We don't deny there is a need," said Rep. John Ensign, R-Nev. But "is it fair across the country or does it benefit some states and not other states?"
Snowe finally offered a compromise under which 50 percent of the new money would be distributed according to the existing formula, and the other 50 percent be considered emergency spending. That proposal was approved 68-31.
"We're denying the president the ability to respond to an emergency," she said of the Kyl proposal. "States are going to receive funding when there is no emergency?" she added. "How does that make sense?"
Congress authorized $5.1 billion for home energy aid as part of an energy bill passed last summer, but budgetary constraints pushed the final figure for fiscal 2006 down to $2.1 billion, largely unchanged from the $2 billion level that has held steady in recent years.
Last week Snowe successfully overcame opposition from conservative Republicans, led by Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who tried to kill the bill on the grounds that the spending was not offset by cuts in other programs.
Federal assistance for home energy costs, dating back to the oil crisis of the 1970s, now reaches some 5 million families. Proponents of expanding the program say the $2 billion budget doesn't go very far when there are some 33 million households, spending about $55 billion a year in energy costs, eligible for the program.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/liheap/
LOL. I bet the RINO doesn't even flinch if she sees that.
That is a riot -- yeah, probably wouldn't bother her liberal butt one bit. :-)
She's made it official now?
"Come to Maine and tell us about it being a mild winter," she said.
I'm in Maine for 5 years now, and this has been a mild winter. It's now 45.7 degrees outside my house. There is no snow on the ground. About 3 weeks ago, we had 12 inches on a Sunday, by Tuesday it was 100% gone.
Cool, i didn't know the feds were paying bills for poor folks now.
Where can i sign up?
Don't expect the truth to come between a politician and her emotional reasonings.
hey, i've got a better idea. how about they lower gas taxes? that would make a lot more sense than charging me a tax then giving it back in heating credit.
oops.. i forgot, we have to tax everyone so the "poor" don't have to pay for anything.
LOL! Perhaps the AP writer just had a Freudean slip.
Our money is going to be worthless if these traitors keep printing and spending like drunken sailors.
"The additional spending would increase to $3.1 billion the amount the federal government will have this year for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a decades-old program"
Every so often, the gas and electric companies include an insert with their bills asking for contributions to their LEAP funds. I suppose that's their way of giving the non-taxpayers among us a chance to contribute, because I've always known Congress contributes on my behalf.
Great, more big government spending...
Mildest winter in years so we have to cough up $1 BILLION? And we wonder why we have a out of control defecit. More Gutless Congressional Grandstanding.
Just end it already! 100% taxes for all.
On a related note, I'm sure a good many of us learned a lesson in the wake of Katrina about being too quick to contribute.
This won't give the poor any incentive to insulate, buy a more efficient furnace, get new windows, caulk, turn off lights, replace bulbs with fluorescents..... just have the gummint pay the bills and you can leave the lights on.
Congress should just send the households in the north a copy of the tax code that is printed up each year. I'm sure the poor could heat their homes easly just throwing a few dozen pages in the fire every day during the winter.
But I thought Hugo Chavez was helping all of the good Liberals and RINO's in the Northeast with cheap heating oil?
They use the left overs in the commode and defer the cost of the Charmin as well.
I don't see energy coming from this guy.
PROOF the vast majority of GOP Senators are NOT conservative!
What happened to "It's not the job of the Government to keep you warm!?"
The writer made another mistake too. John Ensign is the junior Senator from Nevada.
I live in the central valley and I sure as heck would like some energy assistance. The prices of electricity and natural gas here is KILLING us. In the summer (when it is 117 degrees) our electric bill runs $400-600 a mnth. And that is with the air set on 80 degrees.
We freeze in the winter and burn up in the summer because of the price of our gas and electric bills.
This state will see the last of me next yr hopefully.
oops, central valley California
In fact, when biblewonk sent me the link to this article, he mentioned how any number of the many handout recipients in his 'hood are always leaving their doors hanging wide open, even in the cold of winter. Why should they give a damn?
Meanwhile, I remind my kids not to take so long to survey the refrigerator contents.
Inflation is running less than 4%, and Bush and the Republican increase the wealth transfer from taxpayers to slackers and lazy bums by 48! All this will get is more cigs and beer for the the gimmee-gimmee crowd, and more disposable money for cocaine--maybe a plasma TV or two.
I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a conservative. Bush is no Ronald Reagan. Republicans are liberals.
Things like this make the LP look better and better.
"That is a riot -- yeah, probably wouldn't bother her liberal butt one bit. :-)"
Olympia Snowe has the highest job approval rating of any US Senator: 75% positive. For the folks in Maine, she's obviously doing a lot that they like.
But I didn't say I wanted government energy assistance! I want them to butt out so the prices will go down.
Of course I have given up on that and we have just decided to leave California instead.
20+ years, and yes, this winter has been warmer than average. Not just a little bit, either.
WEATHER ITEM OBSERVED TIME RECORD YEAR NORMAL DEPARTURE LAST
VALUE (LST) VALUE VALUE FROM YEAR
...THE MILLINOCKET ASOS CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR MARCH 7 2006...
SINCE MAR 1 306 305 1 313
SINCE JUL 1 5793 6632 -839 6414
...THE PORTLAND CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR MARCH 7 2006...
SINCE MAR 1 264 252 12 279
SINCE JUL 1 4854 5459 -605 5340
...THE HOULTON CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR MARCH 7 2006...
SINCE MAR 1 321 311 10 332
SINCE JUL 1 6147 7030 -883 6948
...THE CARIBOU CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR MARCH 7 2006...
SINCE MAR 1 333 320 13 347
SINCE JUL 1 6475 7245 -770 7135
...THE BANGOR CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR MARCH 7 2006...
SINCE MAR 1 306 269 37 304
SINCE JUL 1 5340 5824 -484 5966
"States are going to receive funding when there is no emergency?" she added. "How does that make sense?"
That makes perfect sense for Congress' mindset.
...Let's shovel out more money so we can keep people dependent on the government. And, oh yeah, it just costs the taxpayers more, but who cares. It makes us Congressmen LOOK like we are really needed...
Mainers are a funny cross-breed of conservalibs.
The same Rinos wont drill now will take away your money and this stuff at inflated prices.
Read the requirements to get this credit
Many folks who have a hard time paying for their heating/electric bills don't fall under the requirements
Then there are other who can pay their bills and don't
Years back Mayor John Street of Philadelphia owed PECO a bundle from unpaid bills
IMO .. Congress needs to kill the taxes on utility bills .. then folks could better afford to pay their bills
Another billion dollar giveaway of taxpayer money? We need to elect Republicans to control the Senate to cut out the socialism. Whoops. Never mind.
Darn I missed reading about this in the Constitution..what did all those early settlers do to keep warm before the Feds stepped in to pay the bills? I bet they probably starved to death or froze to death if they didn't work or had friends and family to help them out.
unbelievable. there are a billion plus ways to waste more tax payer money.
Please sir, more energy please!
Can't we strive to be more like wonderful France and just let the poor and elderly freeze or cook as appropriate?
I work hard! People on welfare depend on me daily!
ROTFLMAO! What an entirely crass way to buy votes for her 2006 re-election effort.
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
Not Yours To Give
lol - Trouble is, they won't end it at 100%. It will go to 110% -- then 120% ---
I live in Edmonton AB, and we have had a very mild winter. This global warming must be great for the poor with regard to their energy costs, so why are we passing this kind of legislation??
Just imagine if that happened. The work force would dry up.
Bravo Mr. Polk!!!!
Actually, in some ways it is the government's (or perhaps governments') fault. Strict burning laws, more regulations than you can shake a stick from an endangered tree at, not allowing people to have fires in their own yards, etc and so on.
Back in settler days you could do a lot more to keep warm. Try that now and see how fast the fire marshall, code enforcers, etc come a knocking on your door :)
This is a joke, right?
Snowe and the other Democrats are actually socialists, and the Republicans are fake capitalists. This is more of the same: unconstitutional redistribution of private property (income, assets) via taxation. Money is taken from me and you to give it to other people for their heating bills, housing, retirement, medical care, food, and probably for beer, cigarettes, and illegal drugs too. Where in the Constitution is this theft of property permitted?