– By Brad Penney, General Counsel –
As I am sure you know, early this morning the President signed legislation reopening the federal government and funding it through January 15th as well as extending the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014.
The funding is set at the House Republican-backed level of $986 billion, with a continuation of sequestration. This means that, for the next 90 days, federal programs will be funded at last year’s level, which is fine for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) (though there will be a cut in range of 8% for sequestration).
However, for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the interim Continuing Resolution (CR) funds WAP at $68M (we remain tied to the very low 2012 CR WAP funding level because, at that time, there was a considerable amount of unspent ARRA funding “in the pipeline”). We all know that the situation has changed dramatically and that $68M does not come close to what is required to operate a national program. So we now have exactly 90 days from today to persuade Congress to get us to the Senate Appropriations Committee approved level of $190M for WAP in FY 2014.
We need your help to do this! Here is our game plan for a 90-day window that, with the holidays coming, will pass all too quickly:
- We will work closely with our Senate champions, such as Senators Jack Reed, Susan Collins, and Sherrod Brown, to persuade the Senate Appropriators Committee to hold firm on the Committee-approved number of $190M in conference with the House;
- We will work with the White House and Department of Energy to reschedule the White House program showcasing the successes of Weatherization that was originally scheduled for yesterday. We have a strong line- up of speakers and the program will do a great deal to raise the visibility of WAP on Capitol Hill and within the Administration;
- We need you to reach out to your Members of Congress to urge $190m for WAP in FY14 and to write letters to the editor, post on blogs, and use social media like Twitter and Facebook to get the word out to stakeholders and policymakers on the urgency of WAP funding;
- We will work to reauthorize WAP and the State Energy Program (SEP) – our authorization expired a year ago and getting a reauthorization bill will improve our chances of securing a higher appropriations level for WAP; and
- We will do a webinar for our WAP network to lay out the challenges we face in this brief 90 day period by setting forth the key players we need to reach on the Hill, and detailing how we will engage stakeholders to make our campaign a success. Stay tuned for details.
So our challenge is very great AND the time to act is very short – with a strong, coordinated effort we CAN succeed. Stay tuned.