Low-income New Yorkers amid a winter of astronomical energy prices could see plenty of monetary relief if lawmakers in Washington close a deal on a $ 1 billion federal injection infusion through Senate majority leader Chuck Shumer on Thursday.
Schumer, a New York City Democrat, worked on lawmakers’ calls on Thursday to secure additional funding for the Home Energy Assistance Program, known as HEAP, and seems to have achieved a cross-party breakthrough that could affect tens of thousands of people in New York City. the office said.
The HEAP program, which provides monthly grants to help low-income households and seniors meet their energy costs in winter, typically receives annual funding of around $ 4 billion. An emergency injection, filed as a makeshift bill, would bring the expected annual funding for the program to approximately $ 5 billion.
“The remaining $ 4 billion will be spent in December,” said the Schumer Daily News. “But now we need money because the cupboard is empty. There will be many cold days between now and Christmas. “
The Senate passed the broader bill by vote 72 to 25 on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m still pushing the House to do it tomorrow,” Schumer said Thursday afternoon, referring to the HEAP measure. Congress has a Friday night deadline for the full funding bill to pass.
The intervention comes in the face of a global increase in media prices triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has restricted gas exports in response to Western sanctions, and most of New York’s electricity supply comes from fossil fuels.
Energy cost forecasts look bleak in New York, where Con Edison has its largest utility provider warned individual customers to be prepared for price spikes of more than 20% in electricity bills and more than 30% in heating bills.
Adding to the potential misfortune: the coming winter in New York threatens to come early and will set off record chills, according to forecasts in Farmers’ Almanac.
The HEAP program has long been a lifeline for vulnerable Americans by lowering their heating costs.
In New York, the program offers support to families with incomes below established limits. A family of four must have an annual income of less than $ 63,000 to qualify this year, according to government guidelines.
The winter application window in New York opens annually in November and lasts until funds are exhausted, by state.
“New York City is one of the most profitable states,” Schumer said of HEAP. “Because we have a lot of cold. And many people. “
Concern about the lack of HEAP funding has been building up over the summer. In August, dozens of lawmakers I sent a letter to Senate and House Allocation Committees, saying they are “deeply concerned that we will not be meeting the needs of low-income families this winter.”
However, the events of Thursday signaled a significant step towards increasing HEAP aid ahead of winter.
Schumer said the fate of the measure “looks good” in the House, but admitted that “in Washington it never ends until it is over.”
His spokesman Angelo Roefaro predicted that enough Republicans would rally with help, noting that “their states have winters too.”
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