GOP criticizes Harris' remarks on administration energy assistance to low-income Americans


The Biden administration sent low-income families billions of dollars in funding to help them pay electric and heating bills.

The Republican National Committee and several GOP Congress members criticized Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday for promoting the Biden administration's accomplishments in lowering heating and electricity costs for American families. The administration has allocated over $16 billion during the most recent winter season to assist low-income families with energy costs.

Harris touted the administration's successes during a speech at historically Black Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, on Wednesday in which she introduced a new initiative by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reduce the cost of primary mortgage insurance offered by the Federal Housing Administration on housing loans for lower-income people.

"For working families, we have reduced heating and electricity bills so folks have more money in their pocket to buy things like school supplies, replace the dishwasher, or take a family vacation," Harris said.

Republicans quickly attacked Harris' statement.

"What is she talking about? Electricity is up 11.9%, fuel oil is up 27.7%, and natural gas is up 26.7% over last year," the Republican National Committee said in a tweet accompanied by video of part of Harris' speech.

Experts have attributed a rise in home heating costs over the winter to high temperatures during the summer of 2022, which led to increased consumption of natural gas, decreasing the supply and resulting in price increases. Other issues, including inflation and coal and nuclear plants going offline, also reportedly have contributed to the problem.

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) accused Harris of "lying to the American people" or being "detached from reality." Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) tweeted: "Costs continue to break too many families, farmers and small businesses in upstate NY. Heating and electric bills have never been higher because of failed energy policies & reckless spending. Americans need relief."

Fox News collected conservative comments in a story that called Harris' comments an "alternate reality."

While Republicans continue to launch attacks, the Biden-Harris administration has allocated more than $16.5 billion to assist low-income families with their energy costs. The actions were taken specifically in response to rising energy prices over the past year.

On Nov. 2, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that $4.5 billion would be sent to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The program was established in 1981 and sends federal funding to states, tribes and territories to help qualified low-income families pay heating or cooling bills.

The funding came from a combination of sources, including $100 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

"As heating costs increase, it is more important than ever to help families struggling to make ends meet. With this funding, we will help protect the health and well-being of Americans by keeping them safe and warm this winter," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing the funding.

Additionally, the Department of Energy on Jan 18. announced guidance for state, local and tribal governments for how to deploy nearly $9 billion included in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act for home energy rebates.

The department said the funds will go toward energy efficiency and electrification projects and are projected to save consumers $1 billion per year on their energy costs.

The new infrastructure law also authorized $3.16 billion in funding for the department's existing Weatherization Assistance Program, which retrofits low-income housing to improve energy efficiency.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.