U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and two other Democratic House members have expressed strong opposition to President Trump's plan to shift $37 million from LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, to help fund his plan to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“Which is kind of unthinkable, that he would take that money. So you've got a vulnerable population, you know, hardly able to heat their homes, and they could be the same one who are affected by the virus.”
The President is also taking money from a variety of other funds for substance abuse and mental health services, the National Institutes of Health and from CDC programs dealing with HIV/AIDS prevention, environmental health and chronic diseases.
"I think he's reacting to the coronavirus because, you know obviously, it's a crisis and he's very worried about making sure the administration appears to be doing something about it, but to go about raiding all these other important programs that are critical to many of our states just doesn't make any sense," Pingree says.
Pingree and her House colleagues have included their concerns in a letter to House and Senate leaders.
In a tweet, Republican Senator Susan Collins also takes issue with the Trump plan. She says transferring money from LIHEAP to fund the coronavirus fight is the wrong approach and would hurt low-income families struggling to pay their heating bills.
Thursday evening Collins and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) issued a statement that said, "Our priority is keeping people safe and healthy, but taking money from LIHEAP would have the opposite impact."
Updated 6:10 p.m. Feb. 27, 2020 to add the statement from Senators Collins and Reed.