Washington, D.C. — Last night the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 748 — the Corona Virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security(CARES) Act — an unprecedented $2 trillion economic stimulus bill to combat the economic devastation wrought by the Corona Virus. The 96-0 vote paves the way for the U.S. House of Representatives to act on the bill sometime this week with President Trump expected to sign it immediately thereafter.
Included in the CARES Act are emergency provisions that touch nearly aspect of the economy, from providing “Recovery Rebates” of up to $1,200 for most Americans to injecting critically needed funding into the nation’s web of state and federal unemployment assistance to the inclusion of $900 million in emergency aid for the Low-Income House Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Regarding the inclusion of the $900 million in emergency LIHEAP funding, Energy Fairness Executive Director and National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition Board member Paul Griffin states, “The mission of Energy Fairness is to advocate for policies that make energy affordable and reliable. At a time when so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, the $900 million included in emergency LIHEAP funding gets to the core of making energy affordable in these troubled economic times. Senator Shelby was a true champion in pushing this funding over the goal line and he deserves applause.”
Established by Congress in 1981 and administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LIHEAP provides financial energy assistance to families at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty level or 60% of state median income. Eligible families may use the funds to pay heating or air conditioning bills or to complete weatherization upgrades, with each state responsible for the distribution of these funds. For example, for FY 2020 Alabama received over $60.8 million in funding to serve approximately 125,000 households with a maximum annual benefit of $990. Ohio received more than $154.7 million in FY 2020 to serve approximately 540,000 households with a maximum annual benefit of $750.
LIHEAP is an indispensable program that makes critical heating, cooling, and weatherization affordable for the most economically vulnerable Americans. With so many Americans in dire need of assistance at every level, we commend the Senate for making energy more affordable through the inclusion of the LIHEAP funding in the CARES Act.