State officials warn 1.5 million families could lose home heating benefits without additional funding

If Congress cuts home energy assistance funds, 1.5 million families could lose benefits, a group representing state-level officials is warning.

In a press release on Tuesday, the National Energy Assistance Directors Association called for Congress to maintain base funding for the energy assistance program and also an additional $2 billion that was added last year.

“If Congress does not include the additional $2 billion again in [fiscal 2024], then states will be forced to cut 1.5 million families from the program and many will be forced to scale back their cooling programs,” it said.

The program, known as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), helps low-income households pay heating and cooling costs.

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association cited “record” energy debt faced by Americans this year, saying that 16 percent of households are behind on their energy bills.

As of December, Americans owed a total of $20.3 billion in energy costs, up from $17.8 billion in January 2023.

The warning comes as tense government funding negotiations are ongoing and right-wing Republicans have been particularly vocal about pushing for cuts.

The LIHEAP program typically has bipartisan support and bills proposed last year in the House and Senate maintain the $4 billion base level.

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