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White House Allocates Funds for Poor to Pay Heating Bills

January 7, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Snow falls at the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, as a winter storm blows into the Mid-Atlantic area. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced details Friday for how it will fund energy costs for low-income persons this winter as a cold wave swept over the nation.

A White House statement described increased funding under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program as another victory for the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law last March.

Before Congress narrowly approved it along party lines, Republicans cited the plan as being too expensive and an example of government spending that provides little return on investment.

White House press spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre defended the plan during a press briefing Friday when she said, “We’ve seen how the economy has bounced back.”

Last year, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program more than doubled spending for home heating to $8 billion. About $4.5 billion is coming from the American Rescue Plan.

The funding is the largest single-year appropriation for home energy expenses since the program was established in 1981, Jean-Pierre said.

“These resources are already allowing states across the country to provide more home energy relief to low income Americans than ever before,” a White House statement said.

A state-by-state breakdown shows that most of the money will go to cold weather states.

Minnesota will get $274 million in supplemental funds for low-income residents. New York will get $876 million.

By comparison, Texas — which has a population with 9 million more residents than New York — will get only an additional $10 million for home heating.

Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration won agreements Friday from seven major utilities to avoid shutting off the heat or electricity for customers seeking federal or state aid. The utilities also agreed to identify customers who need government assistance and to notify them if they are eligible.

The seven utilities who made the new commitments join seven others that reached the same agreement with the federal government in November.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

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