Senators Push for More Winter Heating Aid

Senators from several cold weather states want the Bush administration to provide another $2.92 billion for low-income families to heat their homes this winter.

"There are still homes in this country that are skimping on heat, that are making choices between heating or eating," Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday. "That's not right and we have to do something about it."

Congress has approved $2.18 billion for this winter's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Reed and fellow supporters want to boost aid for poor families this heating season to $5.1 billion.

They also urged Bush to include $5.1 billion for LIHEAP next winter in his fiscal 2007 budget to be announced next week.

At the White House, spokesman Kenneth Lisaius said the Bush administration "continues to monitor the needs of low-income individuals and the cost of home heating. We will continue to work with the Hill to meet future needs in the best way possible."

Northeast lawmakers and the White House battle over fuel assistance every year, but tensions are running higher than usual this winter due to steep energy prices.

Congress originally authorized $5.1 billion for home heating aid as part of the sweeping energy bill passed last summer. But the GOP-controlled House and Senate did not follow through when they passed final budget bills.