House Appropriations Committee Provides $100 Million Increase for LIHEAP

The House Appropriations Committee version of the FY 2017 Labor/HHS/ED appropriations bill provided $3.49 billion for LIHEAP, a $100 million increase for LIHEAP over the comparable FY 2016 appropriations level $3.39 billion. The bill maintains the two tier structure for the funding formula but adds the additional $100 million to the “new” formula increasing that amount to $591 million. The comparable Senate bill does not include the additional $100 million but rather maintains funding at the current FY 2016 level of $3.39 billion.

House Bill Language

LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE For making payments under subsections (b) and (d) of section 2602 of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981, $3,490,304,000: Provided, That all but $591,000,000 of this amount shall be allocated as though the total appropriation for such payments for fiscal year 2017 was less than $1,975,000,000: Provided further, That notwithstanding section 2609A(a), of the amounts appropriated under section 2602(b), not more than$2,988,000 of such amounts may be reserved by the Secretary for technical assistance, training, and monitoring of program activities for compliance with internal controls, policies and procedures and may, in addition to the authorities provided in section 2609A(a)(1), use such funds through contracts with private entities that do not qualify as nonprofit organizations.

Senate Appropriations Committee Maintains Level Funding for LIHEAP – 6/9/16

The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the FY 2017 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill. The bill included $3.39 billion for LIHEAP, the same level as provided for FY 2016. The same formula as used last year was included in the bill. At this point the expectation is the Congress will not finish the bill in the current session and will have to approve a continuing resolution through the end of the calendar year. As with prior years the expectation is that Congress will again include provisions that allow states to allocate up to 90% of last year’s allocation prior to the passage of a full year spending bill. NEADA will work with the Committee to emphasize the importance of this type of provision in order to allow programs to start up prior to the beginning of the winter heating season.

Senate Committee Report Language (Page 135)

The Committee recommendation includes $3,390,304,000 for LIHEAP, which provides home heating and cooling assistance to low-income households, generally in the form of payments to energy vendors on behalf of the recipient. Within the total, the Committee recommendation includes up to $2,988,000 for program in- tegrity and oversight efforts.

Senate Bill Language (Page 70)

Administration’s FY 2017 Budget Proposal for LIHEAP Released – 2/9/16

The Administration FY 2017 Budget for energy assistance is potentially very positive for energy assistance. First, of specific concern is that they would reduce core block grant funding from $3.39 billion to $3 billion. In other words core funding would be cut by $390 million or about 12%. The Budget would also allow states to set-aside up to 40% of their block grant for weatherization purposes without HHS approval up from 15% under current law and 25% with HHS approval.

Of interest is that the Budget would also add to new provisions that would potentially significantly increase funding for energy assistance purposes. Both would require authorizing law, the first would provide a new contingency fund of $560 million. this is possibly based on an earlier proposal from a few years ago that would be triggered if prices increased at a certain rate. The second is a new multiagency fund that would grow from $1.445 billion in FY 17 to $9 billion by 2026. The Budget documents do not provide any additional details.

Of concern is that new proposals are highly unlikely to get approved in the remaining time for this Congress and Administration. Our core concern is the proposed cut to the basic grant. The Budget did not provide a rational for the cut or clear language on the new initiatives. Hopefully we will have more details in the next few days.

See links to Budget docs below:

LIHEAP Block Grant: $3.3 billion down from $3.39 billion (page 47)

Establish Low Income Energy Contingency Fund: $560 Million (page 140)

Establish multiagency Family Energy Assistance Fund: $1.445 growing to $9 billion by 2026 (page 147)