Senators ask Obama administration to help fund weatherization program

Led by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a group of senators wrote a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu urging him to maintain funding levels for WAP despite spending cuts and sequestration.

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“We are writing to urge you to use your reprogramming and transfer authority to blunt the harsh effects that flat funding under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Continuing Resolution will have on the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP),” the senators wrote. “States will face serious challenges to maintain functioning weatherization programs if the FY 2013 funding for WAP remains at this low level.”

The senators complained that funding for WAP has decreased from $174 million in 2011 to $68 million approved in the 2013 continued spending resolution passed by Congress last week. Under sequestration, that money would be cut by at least another 5 percent. The senators said that if WAP is cut some homes would not be weatherized, families would lose aid and weatherization workers would lose their jobs.

“The Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities make lasting energy efficiency improvements to their homes, freeing up resources for other essentials like food and medicine,” the letter stated. “We urge you to ensure a sufficient investment in initiatives like WAP that reduce costs for households and return significant benefits to society.”

Along with Reed and Collins, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Angus King (I-Maine), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mo Cowan (D-Mass.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) signed the letter to Chu.