Congressional Update: More LIHEAP Funding; Limited Budget Extension; Tax Additions Doubtful

On December 12, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Congressman Jared Golden (D-ME) announced an active push to Congressional leadership to encourage an additional $500 million in supplemental funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The effort comes on the heels of EMA’s October 27 letter to President Biden calling for an additional $1 billion in LIHEAP funding.

EMA continues to work with Congressional leadership, including House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), to increase funding for the program that will help lessen the financial impact on energy heating bills during cold months.

Efforts in the House and Senate would include a total $4 billion in LIHEAP funding for the fiscal year 2023 (FY23) spending package.

No Shut Down – For A Week

This week, Congressional leaders broke an impasse to pursue a full-year appropriations deadline. Late Thursday evening, the Senate passed a one-week government extension, which the House passed earlier in the week, to extend funding through December 23, 2022.

This provides additional time for appropriations leaders to negotiate a package, though attempts to attach additional non-spending legislation to the year-end spending bill are dwindling.

Late Tax Additions

On Thursday, opportunities to attach any tax provisions to the year-end bill hit a roadblock.

“I’ve not seen positive movement that I had hoped we would see to this point,” said Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a member of the Finance Committee and Democratic leadership.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Finance member John Thune of South Dakota, shared the same sentiment saying that a large tax title is unlikely.

Defense Bill

Aside from government funding, Congress began this week with the need to address other must-do items – notably the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The compromised legislation emerged early in the week and quickly passed the House with over two-thirds voting in favor.

Late Thursday, the Senate passed the legislation by a 83-11 vote. In addition to funding the Pentagon, the NDAA also includes policy positions – such as an amendment to the Jones Act, which snuck in at the 11th hour.

The amendment could make receiving a Jones Act waiver more challenging and increases the need for reform in the 118th Congress.

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