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Senate Rejects Amendment to Increase LIHEAP Appropriations for Upcoming Winter

The Senate voted down an amendment Thursday that would have provided an additional $3.1 billion of funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the upcoming winter heating season.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), who sponsored the amendment, sought to attach it to the Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, House and Urban Development spending bill for fiscal year 2006 (HR 3058). It would have added the $3.1 billion in emergency funding to the Bush administration's $2 billion request for fiscal 2006, bringing funding for LIHEAP to the maximum level authorized under the energy policy act ($5.1 billion).

Although it received the majority of the votes, the amendment failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to waive the budget act and be included in the spending bill, a Reed spokeswoman said. A motion for the waiver came up seven votes short, 53-46.

Forty-four Republicans, along with two Democrats (Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Ben Nelson of Nebraska), voted against the waiver motion, thus striking down Reed's amendment. The support for the motion came from Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans, mostly representing New England states.

The House-approved version of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending bill (HR 3010) restricted LIHEAP spending to the White House-requested level of $2 billion for fiscal year 2006, according to Congressional Quarterly's Green Sheets.

"No family should have to choose between heating their home and putting food on the table for their children. No senior citizen should have to decide to either buy life-saving prescription drugs or pay their electric bill. But unfortunately, low-income Americans are facing these decisions this winter and Washington is not providing the resources needed to help," Reed said.

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