Heating Battle Heats up in Northeast

— -- It's a pleasant day outside today -- in the upper 70s in Upstate New York -- but there's an issue that's picked up some mentions in the local papers the last few days: winter home-heating costs.

It will be winter's double-wallop: For people struggling to pay their bills, one particular bill is going to be as much as 25 percent higher than last year, according to the Center for American Progress.

LIHEAP -- the federal Low-Income Heating Assistant Program -- is designed to help. It sparks a perennial battle in Congress (fiscal conservatives and warm-state lawmakers tend to be less friendly to the federal subsidy) that almost always ends in some kind of compromise.

Almost. For this winter, after years of cutbacks, no money has been pumped into the federal pipeline. Without federal action, the program is done.

It's an issue that's among very many that fuels local anger toward Congress: People want their LIHEAP, just like they want their Medicare, say, and resent the inaction. An issue worth tracking in both local and federal races going into the fall.