December 22, 2021

Wyden, Colleagues Urge HHS to Help Protect Families this Winter During Energy Crisis

The cost of home heating is estimated to increase by 30 percent this winter

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today joined colleagues in a letter urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address the ongoing energy crisis and its impact on families served by the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Oregon and nationwide.

“As the world economy recovers from the pandemic, global energy markets are struggling to keep up with a surge in demand and prolonged supply shortages,” Wyden and the lawmakers wrote. “For low-income families, these price increases are unsustainable and will force them to choose between heating their homes and other essentials like rent, food, or medicine. As state agencies and grantees prepare their winter programs, it is crucial that they have strong support from your department to assist low-income households.”

The cost of home heating is estimated to increase by 30 percent this winter, which is a level that has not been seen since 2014 and would affect 61 million households that use natural gas for heat. As a consequence of these volatile prices, the purchasing power of appropriated LIHEAP funding could drop by as much as 30 percent. The letter requests information and timeline updates regarding implementation and eligibility for low-income families and funding needs for the Department to fulfill its obligations.

Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass, led the letter from Senate and House lawmakers. Along with Wyden, the letter is signed by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Debbie Stabenow, D-Colo., Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Mark R. Warner, D-Va.

A companion letter in the House is co-led by Congresswomen Gwen S. Moore, D-Wis., and Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Texas. It was signed by 89 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Full text of the letter is here.