Congress clashes over heating bill funding, homes in Spokane could lose support

By:  KREM.com & Shawn Chitnis
SPOKANE-- Senator Maria Cantwell visited Spokane Saturday as Congress is divided on where heating bill funding should go to help keep families warm during the winter.

Senator Cantwell stopped in Spokane because thousands of homes in our area could lose support.

Cantwell say the United States House wants to pass a plan cutting almost $30 million dollars from Washington State.  She says she is trying to get the Senate to pass another plan that keeps the funding here.

The arrival of more snow in Spokane on Saturday served as a reminder that winter is just around the corner and colder temperatures are here to stay.

Officials at Senator Cantwell’s office say a low income energy assistance program helped more than 11,000 homes pay for heat in Spokane County last year.

The program has been around since 1984, but differing proposals in Congress could take that money away from 4,000 Spokane households.

“Now is not the time to change the program that has been in place for 25 years,” Senator Cantwell said.

Cantwell says she is contacting her fellow colleagues to push for legislation in the Senate that will keep funding for Washington at the current level.

Cantwell says the money is the difference between staying in your own home and going somewhere else for heat for many families.

The Senator’s office says Washington would be one of the three worst impacted states in the House.  The money lost would go to fund tens of millions of dollars in increases for states like Florida and Texas.