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December 19, 2005
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Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) was taken to a Washington, DC-area hospital Thursday after suffering a heart attack following a conference committee session on Capitol Hill. Barton, 56, was "resting comfortably after Thursday evening's heart attack," his office reported. His physician, Dr. Jonathan Samuel Reiner of George Washington University Hospital, "has expressed...confidence in a full and complete recovery," said a Barton press aide in a statement. The aide added that she expected Barton to go home within a few days. Barton is chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and was one of the chief architects of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which Congress passed in July.

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed HB 1359, which provides up to $20 million in state funds to support the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The governor proposed the legislation in October as part of the "Stay Warm PA" initiative. Pennsylvania says it ranks second among the states in the help it provides to low-income families for their utility bills. The state does not currently match LIHEAP money and requires utilities to pay $212 million toward these costs. Rendell's office says he has sought more federal money for LIHEAP. Wednesday, the Republican-led House passed by a slim margin a negotiated massive spending bill that only slightly raises funding for LIHEAP in fiscal 2006 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 15). The bill sets aside $2.2 billion for low-income consumers this winter, which is $176 million more than what the House approved in its version of the bill and $601,000 more than what was allotted in fiscal 2005. It's not known when the Senate will act.

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