WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter with a bipartisan coalition of 31 U.S. senators urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as swiftly and at the highest level as possible.

“Given the alarming increase in energy costs that is forecast for this winter, we worked to secure an additional $1 billion in emergency funding for LIHEAP in the recently enacted short-term CR. It is critical that this funding, as well as the significant base funding available under the CR, is distributed as quickly as possible so it reaches these households in time for the winter heating season,” said the lawmakers.

LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies. Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources. Senior citizens and those receiving Social Security Disability or SSI benefits are encouraged to apply as early as possible, but applications will be open to everyone through spring of 2023 — or until the funding is exhausted.

The senators wrote that the federal LIHEAP funding is a crucial lifeline that assists low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes in paying their energy bills and staying safe during the winter.

Earlier this month, Murphy and Blumenthal helped secure $1 billion in LIHEAP funding in the Continuing Resolution to fund the government. This will translate to an estimated $21 million for Connecticut’s LIHEAP program.

In addition to Murphy and Blumenthal, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Angus King, Jr. (I-Maine), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.M.).

Full text of the letter is available here.