The Trump administration is arguing again this year that a program assisting low income Americans with heating their homes is teeming with fraud and abuse - and therefore should be shut down.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps families stay warm primarily by sending grants directly to utility and heating fuel companies, and opponents of the move to terminate the program say President Donald Trump is wrong that no one would be left to freeze in the cold.
President Donald Trump tried to eradicate the program last year, but encountered resistance in Congress. In October, he released nearly $3 billion, or roughly 90 percent, of the funding.
Critics say that money won’t go as far as in past years because of rising prices.
Because the program helps people across the nation - not just in colder states - it is unlikely that many in Congress will approve of eliminating its funding.
Republican Sen. John Hoeven, of North Dakota, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said he’ll fight for the program that provides “vital resources” to help those in need keep their homes safe and warm and “to make ends meet.”
Even though Maine resident Dwayne LaBrecque is a Trump supporter, he is all too familiar with just how vital this resource is for families like his own:
“If the president turned around and did away with that funding, I have no idea how we’d survive in the winter,” said Dwayne LaBrecque, a diabetic who is on disability after losing several toes and part of his foot to infection.
LaBrecque’s income plummeted when he lost his job as a shipping manager, leaving him to cobble together an existence for himself, his fiancee and their five children in the rural Maine town of Hartford. The family received about $1,000 in heating assistance this winter, and that money is already gone.