Thursday, January 17, 2008

Obama: Keep Americans Warm + Action

From December 4th

Barack Obama today joined with progressive hero Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) to introduce the Keep Americans Warm Act of 2007. It may sound like something you read in the Onion but it is real. His legislation would provide an additional $1 billion in emergency funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to ensure that millions of low-income families, senior citizens, and disabled Americans are able to heat their homes, keep their lights on, and cook their food during the coldest months of the year. Bush proposed reducing LIHEAP funding in his budget proposal. Then he turned around and vetoed LIHEAP funding included in the Senate-passed version of the Labor HHS bill. This puts millions of Americans at risk of not being able to heat their homes this winter. Most of us probably will be able to heat our homes but the reality is that millions simply can't afford it.

Here is Obama's statement on the bill:

"Soaring energy costs have meant that more and more Americans have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families, This is not a choice our families should have to make. Ensuring all Americans have livable homes during the coldest months is a basic necessity. But I hear from too many Americans struggling to meet these costs — senior citizens who can’t pay for their medication because of heating bills and parents whose children go to bed cold at night. While LIHEAP provides help for millions of American families, the President has chosen to play politics over authorizing these emergency funds, and has risked their health and safety. This bill cannot come at a more urgent time, and must be passed immediately. I thank Senator Sanders for his leadership on this bill, and urge my colleagues to stand with us to support this program that provides assistance for those who need it the most."

And Sanders statement:

"Skyrocketing home heating bills already are stretching household budgets. In the richest country on earth, we have a moral responsibility to make sure that no one has to make a choice between food, medicine and heat for their homes. Congress must act now to deal with this national emergency."

In addition to Obama and Sanders it is cosponsored by Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

This year the DoE predicted that Americans can expect to pay up to 22 percent more for their utility bills than last winter. So what does our new majority do? Approve $2.4 billion in funding for LIHEAP.

What does Bush do? Get out his trusty veto pen. He was heard saying "Let them freeze" on his way out of the room... Maybe not. But he might as well have.

The number of eligible households has increased to more than 37 million since the President assumed office in 2001. And yet only 15 percent of those currently eligible, or 5.8 million households, actually receive aid which is a outrage on it's own. But what does Bush do? He wants to make poor people freeze. This is a man who has gotten everything he could ever ask for without having to do anything. That's why a president who has lived and fought for people receiving LIHEAP as a community organizer is so appealing. That's why it is so many people are flocking to his campaign for change. But I'm not going to end this diary with a appeal for Obama. I'm going to end it with a appeal for those who Bush wants to cruelly leave out in the cold.

Take action on this. Call your Senators and urge them to support and co-sponsor this bill. If there is enough of a uproar about it they will be forced to act. Tell them millions of Americans could freeze if action is not taken. Tell them that they can make a difference. If the staffers seem un-supportive ask if you're senator supports cutting off funding for poor freezing people or freezing seniors. Together we can make a difference on this so take action! Go to and type in you're zip code. Then you're Senators should pop up. Click to contact them, a big list of issues will come up, scroll to the bottom and select Compose Your Own Letter, write a letter urging them to support the Keep Americans Warm Act of 2007.

Get active!

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