December 21, 2010

Reed & Whitehouse Help Restore LIHEAP Funds & Pell Grants

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate today voted 79-16 to pass a short-term funding measure, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) which will keep the government running through March 4, 2011.  The bill would maintain fiscal year 2010 funding for most programs, but also includes an additional $1.25 billion for the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and $5.7 billion to maintain the maximum award for Pell grants.

U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse, who both voted for the measure, successfully included language in the CR to restore the LIHEAP funding, which could provide up to $12 million in LIHEAP funding for Rhode Island, bringing the state’s total block grant this year to $29 million. 

They also both strongly backed the effort to maintain the maximum Pell grant at about $5,550 per year. 

If this provision wasn’t included students would see their Pell Grants fall from $5,550 to $3,710 next school year, a cut of 33 percent.

“These are essential aid programs, and I am relieved we were able to get bipartisan support to pass this bill.  This isn’t a permanent fix, and we face difficult budget battles in the new year.  But this stopgap spending bill will help ensure that millions of Americans who depend on these programs can continue to get the assistance they need,” said Reed.

“Extra funding to help working families pay for home heating oil will make an enormous difference this winter,” said Whitehouse.  “And with tuition rates rising ever higher, I was proud to work with Senator Reed to uphold the values of former-Senator Pell and maintain essential aid for college students.”

The omnibus spending bill which had previously been pending in the Senate fully funded Pell grants and would have provided $5 billion for LIHEAP, but Republicans blocked the measure from consideration.

Now that it has passed the Senate, the CR goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, which could act as soon as this evening to pass the bill.

Once the House approves the legislation it will go to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921