A House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday narrowly approved a $142 billion spending bill that would provide slightly more than $2 billion to help needy consumers pay their energy bills in fiscal year 2007.

By 9 to 7, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee voted to spend $2.111 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in fiscal 2007, which is $329.17 million above the Bush administration’s request. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up the spending measure next Tuesday.

The approved funding is far below the level that the American Gas Association requested for LIHEAP. The group, which represents natural gas utilities, had called on the House subcommittee to recommend full funding of $5.1 billion as authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that was enacted into law last summer (see Daily GPI, June 7).

The Senate has repeatedly supported $5.1 billion in funding for LIHEAP, but the Republican leadership and the White House have blocked it. The Senate Appropriations subcommittee and committee are expected to act on LIHEAP in July.

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