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 Statement of Michael B. Enzi 

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions 

The Warm in Winter Cool in Summer Act, S.3186 

July 25, 2008 

Mr. President: I rise in opposition to the pending legislation, S.3186, "The Warm in Winter Cool in Summer Act." This legislation would provide additional funding in FY2008 for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP. An additional $2.5 billion would be provided, and under this legislation, these new funds carry an emergency designation—that means it will be added to our debt.

I’d like to first commend Sen. Sanders, the sponsor of the legislation, on this well-intentioned bill. We all know that the price of oil has increased this year. We feel it at the gas pump every week when we fill up our tanks. And with winter just around the corner, Sen. Sanders is trying to provide additional funding for a home energy assistance program that is one component of our country’s social safety net.

But while the intent of this legislation is admirable, I can not support this additional funding because it is not paid for. It is simply another IOU dropped on top of the pile of debt that our children and grandchildren will be responsible for. It may be them who will have to go without heat or air conditioning because of the debt these types of proposals make them responsible for.

If Congress wants to boost funding for LIHEAP, then we ought to pay for it by cutting spending in a different program. This bill does not do that. It passes the cost to future generations, by charging the expense to the government credit card.

The debate we’re having today also invites a discussion on budget process reform. We ought to have contingencies for emergency spending. Last month the Congress approved a supplemental spending bill that provided funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as extend veterans’ education benefits and Unemployment Insurance. This spending is in addition to the approximately $1 trillion in annual spending through the regular appropriations process. My understanding is that in September, the Appropriations Committee will mark up another supplemental spending bill related to infrastructure and the economy. I haven’t seen the details of that proposal, but expect that it will be large in size and scope. Much of this new spending has merit and ought to be funded. I don’t take issue with that. However, working outside of the regular budget process allows for new spending that does not count against the regular budget caps.

So for these reasons, I oppose the LIHEAP funding bill we are debating today. While I commend the supporters for bringing their proposal forward – we ought to tighten the fiscal belt and pay for this new spending. If this is a high priority then we need to eliminate some spending that is a lower priority to pay for it. Regretfully, this legislation does not do that, and I intend to vote NO on final passage.

I yield the floor.