Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark led a bipartisan letter Wednesday calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to take additional steps to reduce energy costs in the wake of Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine.

Since Putin's invasion of Ukraine, oil prices have surged to their highest level since 2008 and natural gas prices have risen approximately 60 percent higher than this time last year.

In the letter, signed by 89 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Clark asked for information regarding the impact of the energy crisis on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assess the program's current needs and to prepare for next winter.

"While we commend President Biden's leadership in addressing rising fuel costs caused by Russia's illegal war in Ukraine, we are nonetheless concerned that this war could worsen and prolong the financial impact of high energy prices on American families," the letter reads. "LIHEAP plays a critical role in offsetting burdensome heating and cooling costs that strain the budgets of financially vulnerable Americans. But as prices skyrocket because of Russia's aggression in Europe, states will have to make tough choices about the number of people they serve and the amount of LIHEAP assistance they can provide to each household."

"Recognizing this growing need, we respectfully request that you work with the Department of Energy to determine the impacts Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have on the home energy prices of low-income Americans for the remainder of this fiscal year and next," it continues. We also ask that you make recommendations for additional funding for LIHEAP, including supplemental and contingency funding, to minimize the impacts."

In December, Clark and Senator Jack Reed called on HHS to address the ongoing energy crisis and its impact on families served by the LIHEAP.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

Original story HERE