We need your help! Now is the time to reach out to Congress, and let Members know that the gridlock of the budget process is hurting programs like the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) that benefit struggling low-income Americans.
Our message is clear and simple: WAP is tied to an unrealistic funding level of $68M, a carryover from the FY 12 Continuing Resolution, which is not enough to sustain the program nationally. We need $190M to keep this program running.
We cannot lose the value the taxpayers have already invested in WAP and force highly trained worker layoffs in the midst of a stagnant economy. Help us take that message to the Members who will decide the fate of the program.
The Shutdown Problem
A relatively small program like WAP could be lost in the shuffle of the current breakdown in government all too easily. It is possible that any shutdown resolution and failure to pass a budget for FY 2014 will be temporary, meaning a likely four or eight week Continuing Resolution (CR) that would keep WAP at the FY 12 level of only $68M – not enough to sustain WAP as a national program. So what is NASCSP’s strategy for dealing with the uncertainty and what can our stakeholders do to help keep the program alive?
White House Event
First, we have to keep the success and benefits of the program front and center in the crowded agenda facing Congress. That’s why we showcasing WAP’s energy efficiency, new technology, and jobs and training benefits at a White House event. Although the event is currently postponed due to the continuing shutdown, we will reschedule it once the situation is resolved. This event shows the Administration’s commitment to fight for WAP and to keep the profile of the program at the forefront of the minds of Members of Congress.
We also need to step up our personal outreach to policymakers by arranging Weatherization Day events and inviting Members.
We have just finished a round of meetings with 15 Republican Members of Congress to urge them to support an increase in funding for WAP in FY 2014 spending bills. We are planning a letter from our Senate allies and champions to Senate Members of the Appropriations Committee making the same request – fund Weatherization at a sufficient level to sustain the program going forward, specifically the FY 2014 $190M level contained in the Energy and Water Appropriations passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
NASCSP will be discussing the various ways to increase WAP in the CR in our meetings and continuing dialogue with the House and Senate Energy & Water Appropriations subcommittees. If there is a positive side to any of this, and that’s certainly hard to find at the moment, it is that the 2014 Program Year does not begin until April 1, 2014 in some states and in others, July or October 2014. So there is time to get an increase in WAP funding into a future CR, since our need likely will not be addressed in the initial stopgap, short-term CR to re-open the government.
We Need Your Help
While most of our network cannot directly advocate for funding, you can mobilize your network and stakeholders to reach out to Congressional Members. The funding level of $68M is not enough to sustain the program nationally. That number represents a 70% cut in funding for WAP over the pre-ARRA spending levels. We want to return to the average pre-ARRA funding level of $220M to $240M, but recognize the difficulty in FY 2014 given the severe constraints on the budget. Therefore, our “ask” is the Senate Committee passed number of $190M.
So let’s do everything possible to keep our concern for WAP funding before our elected Members of Congress. You can find your Members of the Senate and the House here. We are doing everything we can to secure the highest level of funding for WAP in 2014. Please join us.