Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy recently joined General Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, and firefighters from Nassau County at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The visit was part of the Nassau County Fire Fighter's Operation Wounded Warrior.

On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy introduced her first piece of legislation of the 111th Congress. Shortly after being sworn in to her seventh term representing New York's 4th Congressional District, McCarthy introduced the Home Heating Cost Relief Act, which will help middle class families struggling with the high home heating costs.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, provides a vital safety net for our nation's low-income households. LIHEAP helps low-income families and seniors stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, many families do not qualify for LIHEAP, but still struggle with high home heating oil bills.

The Home Heating Cost Relief Act will provide a $1,000 refundable tax credit for individuals, $2,000 for families, to offset the cost of home heating oil, gas and propane. This is a temporary, two-year tax credit that will give middle class families the relief they need while Congress works to implement a long-term energy policy.

The bill will also create a low interest loan program that will provide up to $5,000, at 1 percent interest, to be used for weatherization. Many homes, particularly older homes, need new windows, new burners and better insulation in order to be more energy efficient. The loan program will offer many homeowners the opportunity to make necessary home improvements to drive down their energy costs.

"The average family in the 4th Congressional District will pay more than $5,000 this year to heat their home. Many Long Islanders have seen their home heating costs more than double from what they paid last year and they simply cannot afford the spike in prices while our economy is struggling," McCarthy said.

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