Senate Increases Funding for Energy Assistance, College Costs
Whitehouse Supports “Continuing Resolution” to Keep Government Running Through March 2009
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate voted today to increase funding for programs that help working families heat their homes in winter, conserve energy, and pay for college as part of major legislation that will keep the federal government running through next March.
The "continuing resolution," formally titled the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, includes funds for government operations and defense and homeland security spending, as well as $22.9 billion in supplemental funding to aid in recovery for communities affected by natural disasters, including Midwestern flooding, wildfires in the West, and Gulf Coast hurricanes.
"For Rhode Island families struggling in the weakening economy, a little help will go a long way," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who voted in favor of the continuing resolution. "Extra funding to help working families pay for home heating oil and weather-proof their homes to improve energy efficiency will make an enormous difference this winter. I'm also glad we were able to strengthen funding for Pell Grants, so that young people in college will still be able to rely on this assistance next year."
The continuing resolution includes a $2.5 billion increase in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income and middle-class families pay fast-rising home energy bills. As winter approaches, this increase allows the program to offer assistance to 2 million more households and raises the average grant from $355 to $550.
The bill also strengthens funding that supports energy efficiency improvements to low-income housing. The $250 million increase will help weatherize about 100,000 homes, saving each of those households approximately $400 in energy costs next year.
Finally, under the continuing resolution, funding for Pell Grants would rise by $2.5 billion over 2008 levels, to prevent cuts to student aid midway through the year.
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