WASHINGTON U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, again called on President Obama to increase or at least continue at the current level the funding for home heating assistance for veterans and seniors through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

"Many veterans who might be eligible for LIHEAP don't know they can take advantage of the program, but they absolutely can. We need to help our veterans and seniors stay warm in the winter. We can't let them slip through the cracks. We need to fund LIHEAP," Rep. Barletta said. "Many in Northeastern Pennsylvania struggle to pay for their heat. They have to make the difficult choice between paying for food and keeping warm, and that just isn't acceptable. More and more Americans are hurting, so it's incredibly important that President Obama keep LIHEAP funded at current levels, if not increase that funding."

A Jan. 26 letter coauthored by Rep. Barletta and Rep. Edward Markey (D, MA-7) calls on the president to request at least $4.7 billion for LIHEAP in Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13). More than 100 House members Republicans and Democrats signed the letter.

Because of the efforts of Rep. Barletta and others in Congress, LIHEAP funding this fiscal year topped $3.4 billion almost $1 billion more than President Obama had requested for FY12. Of that, almost $210 million is allocated for the Pennsylvania program. (Source: Campaign for Home Energy Assistance)

LIHEAP helps low-income families pay their heating bills through a cash grant sent directly to the utility company or as a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat.

The number of households with at least one military veteran receiving LIHEAP assistance swelled from 700,000 in FY 2008 to 1.78 million in FY 2011. This is an increase of over 150 percent during the past four years, according to a survey by the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA). The bulk of energy aid recipients who served in the military are over 60. Almost half are disabled. Of the veterans who received help, 12 percent served in Iraq and Afghanistan; about seven percent are on active duty.

LIHEAP provided vital heating assistance to 8.9 million households in 2011 an increase of 54 percent since 2008.