BOSTON (AP) — Mass. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey are among a bipartisan group of 39 senators calling on the federal government to increase funding for a program that helps lower-income families and seniors cover their home heating costs.

The senators urge President Barack Obama to restore funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to at least $4.7 billion in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015.

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The senators said in the letter sent Friday that funding for the program has declined more than 30 percent in recent years, despite soaring energy costs. They say the number of households eligible for assistance continues to exceed available funding.

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The senators say the program provides critical support to most vulnerable residents, and that funding for and access to affordable home energy is a matter of health and safety.

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