Senators ask Biden administration to fund program that helps people pay heating bills

Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are asking the Biden administration to fund an existing program that will help people pay their heating bills, The Associated Press reported.

The lawmakers announced on Friday that they're leading a coalition of 36 senators to urge the federal government to pay for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. 

Reed and Collins said they're making the request now because winter is coming and energy costs are projected to increase.

Both senators also said federal funding is a crucial lifeline for low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes. 

Nearly 5.3 million households across the nation have received assistance from the federal program, according to the AP. 

Reed and Collins wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services about their request. 

"This funding will help ensure that low-income families and seniors do not have to make the impossible choice between paying for heat and paying for food or medicine, especially with the sharp increase in energy prices this year," Collins said in a statement.

This comes as Maine was awarded more than $40 million to help nearly 33,000 households in 2020. 

Rhode Island was awarded $24 million, with an additional $30.8 million through the American Rescue Plan, which helped more than 26,000 households in 2020, the AP reported.