–by Tim Warfield, NASCSP Executive Director —
This has been a very productive beginning to the New Year for both the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and NASCSP. The highlight so far is the FY 2014 appropriations number of $174M for WAP, representing a 150% increase over last year’s Congressionally appropriated number of $68M (later supplemented by DOE reprogramming funds). NASCSP played a large role in helping to secure this increase, and we want to update you on our efforts as well as our advocacy plans for FY 2015:
- Starting with a very low House number for FY 2015, we reached out to more than 15 House Republicans, to urge support for Weatherization funding;
- Last month we traveled to Allentown, PA to meet with Republican Congressman Charles Dent, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee. We met with Mr. Dent through the assistance of Alan Jennings, the head of the Community Action Committee of Lehigh Valley. Mr. Dent was instrumental in connecting us with his colleague, Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds Weatherization.
- Additional help with Congressman Simpson came from our Idaho friends, led by Ken Robinette and Christina Zamora, who answered our call and organized a major outreach to Mr. Simpson through letters, emails, and visits to his Boise office.
Our “mini-campaign” for WAP funding in FY 14 was highlighted by a Weatherization program we did at the White House Complex on December 9th in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, at which senior White House staff, CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, and DOE Assistant Secretary Dave Danielson all expressed strong Administration funding for WAP. We packed the Indian Treaty Room at the White House complex despite a major snowstorm the day before, and the event generated considerable “buzz” about the successes of WAP just as House and Senate staff were beginning to negotiate the Appropriations bills under the Budget Agreement.
- Finally, we orchestrated the support of our allies and friends in the Energy Efficiency community, who wrote to Senate and House Appropriators just before Christmas identifying Weatherization as their number one, top priority “ask” at the funding level we were requesting.
Given the low House number we started with, plus the spending constraints of the Budget Agreement, we achieved a major victory by securing the $174M. We are deeply grateful to Secretary Danielson, to our great friends in Idaho, and to our champions on Capitol Hill led by Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, and of course Congressman Paul Tonko, “Mr. Weatherization” in the House of Representatives, of New York.
We have quickly pivoted to begin the campaign for FY 15 funding for Weatherization, and we are confident we will see a further increase in funding for Weatherization. Our goal is to bring the program to the upper levels of pre-ARRA funding, in the $240 M range. The President’s budget will be released on March 4th, and we are working with our Congressional allies right now to persuade the President to prioritize WAP and to request funding that restores the program to pre-Recovery Act levels.
In order to maintain the momentum we now have in restoring WAP funding levels, we need your active support now more than ever. We need your continued outreach to Members of the House and Senate, to tell the story of the successes of the WAP program and its contribution to your economy. We will be calling on you for continued help as we battle to restore the program to pre-Recovery Act levels.
Thanks for everything you do to support our efforts! We will update you on the FY 15 effort.
Executive Director, NASCSP
White House event video: http://www.youtube.com/user/NASCSP