Iowa Senator Tom Harkin today compared the budget bill before Congress to Charles Dickens’ ” A Christmas Carol ” — but says unlike the classic holiday tale — the budget bill doesn’t hold a happy ending. Harkin, a democrat, says the budget bill will cut funding to several key programs that serve the less fortunate in the country.
He says, “So right before Christmas we’re saying to low-income families all over America, you know, you can hang your stockings. It’s Christmas time and here comes Congress and they’re going to put a lump of coal in your stocking.” Harkin says republicans in Congress are cutting programs for the needy to fund tax cuts for the rich.
Harkin says one of the key issues for Iowa is the money that helps low-income people pay their heating bills. Harkin says the way the House did the bill, there’s more dollars for LIHEAP (Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program), but Iowa doesn’t get a penny of that money. He says, “That’s just a double slap in the face. First of all we have no increase in funding. Secondly the money they put in there to boost it a little bit is going to go to states other than Iowa, Iowa doesn’t get any of that money.”
Harkin says he’ll push an amendment to the final budget reconciliation bill that would give Iowa two-point-four million more dollars for heating assistance. But he says his amendment is a motion to instruct and won’t bind anybody to give Iowa the money. Harkin says they should vote on the budget today. He’s not sure it will even pass.
He says he’s afraid the bill won’t pass and there will be no additional money for heating assistance for Iowa. Harkin says he hopes the budget bill doesn’t pass “so we can come back next year and do what’s right.” The state official that runs the LIHEAP program says over 52-thousand Iowans have applied for the heating assistance — a record number.