CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- President Obama and House Republicans want to make significant cuts in federal funding that helps low-income families pay their heating bills this winter. Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller doesn't like that idea.
West Virginia's senior senator wants them to reverse their plans to cut funding available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
On Friday, Rockefeller signed a letter sent to Jacob Lew, director of the U.S. Office of Budget and Management, asking the Obama administration to reconsider cuts that could slice energy-assistance funds to poor families and senior citizens in half.
Last winter, 92,628 West Virginians received LIHEAP home-heating assistance. This winter, 77,125 West Virginians have received assistance, and that number is increasing, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
House Republicans also want to cut at least $400 million from the program's "emergency funds" that help poor people in times of emergency and particularly harsh winters.
"I have always advocated for West Virginia's families and seniors who struggle with their energy bills to make certain that they receive the help they need to heat their homes," Rockefeller said.
"I am very serious about reducing our country's deficit, but we can't do it on the backs of those Americans who are already struggling."
Rockefeller said his office has received letters from dozens of West Virginians worried about losing help they need to pay home heating bills.