Legislative Update: March Ends In a Roar for Weatherization Assistance Program

Brad Penney, General Counsel, NASCSP and Bob Scott, Director, Energy Services, NASCSP –

This year, as the saying goes, March went out like a lion — at least on Capitol Hill. The last five days of March were good ones for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Disappointed as we were by the refusal of the Appropriations Committees to accept the Administration’s request for $139 million for WAP in the Continuing Resolution for the balance of FY 2013, we were gratified to turn our sights to working with Senators Jack Reed (RI), Susan Collins (ME), and Jeff Merkley (OR) on an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution that would add $50 million to the budget authority for WAP in FY 2014. We worked with our allies over several days to build support for the amendment, and were rewarded for our efforts on March 22nd when the Reed-Collins-Merkley amendment was added to the Budget Resolution during an all night session of the Senate.

There was no time, however, to savor that victory as we immediately turned our efforts in the direction of securing the support of Senators on a letter to the Secretary of Energy, urging the Secretary to use his discretion to reallocate sufficient funding for WAP to sustain WAP as a national program in FY 2013. Our task was difficult, because the Passover/Easter recess began immediately after the Budget Resolution was completed. Despite the fact that many staff and Senators were back in their home states or on leave, we reached out to 70 Senate offices in the space of three days, and were successful in persuading 34 Senators to sign on to the letter to the Secretary of Energy. Hopefully this letter will enable the Secretary to identify funding to get us as close to the $139 million level for the balance of FY 2013.

Now, as we await the delivery of the President’s FY 2014 budget requests on April 10th, we’re grateful to all of our members who helped deliver the message about the importance of WAP. We can all look back at those productive five days at the end of March as a time when we unleashed the full force of the successful national network of suppliers and providers and signaled that WAP is regaining some bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. 

Read the Senators’ letter to the Secretary of Energy here.