Negotiations between House-Senate conferees on the fate of the Federal Trade Commission authorization bill appear to be stalemated over key issues in the Senate version of the FTC legislation, sources said yesterday.
Sen. Wendall Ford (D-Ky.), chairman of a Senate consumer subcommittee, and Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.) are unwilling to give up any provisions of the Senate version of the FTC bill, including a measure that would end an FTC investigation of children's television advertising practices, sources said.
In addition, Ford is apparently unwilling to compromise on a provision of the Senate bill that would revise the standards by which the FTC evaluates "fairness" in advertising, and another provision which would remove the FTC from the business of monitoring the standards and certification process.
A meeting between several members of the House-Senate conference committee broke off yesterday when the participants could not agree to a compromise between the widely-differing bills passed by the bodies.
Those differences cloud the FTC's future as the April 30 date nears when the FTC's authorization expires unless a bill is agreed upon by the conferees and signed by President Carter. u
The participants at yesterday's meeting included Ford, Danforth, Reps. James Scheuer (D-N.Y.), James Broyhill (R-N.C.) and Matthew Rinaldo (R-N.J.) and staff members. The meeting broke off with the sides apparently divided along House-Senate lines, sources said.
Sources maintain that White House staff members might recommend that President Carter veto any FTC authorization bill that guts ongoing FTC cases.
The House version of the FTC authorization bill includes measures that would bar the FTC from issuing its rule concerning the funeral industry, bar the commission from proceeding with antitrust matters involving agricultural cooperatives, and limit the FTC's authority to recommend that a trademark has become generic.
The Senate bill ends the FTC's standards and certification rulemaking, its children's advertising or "kidvid" proceeding and the commission's authority to investigate the insurance industry.
The House bill also includes a legislative veto provision. Upon approval by both Houses, a new FTC regulation could be blocked, under that proposal. b
Sources say that an FTC bill that included a two-House veto might force key White House staff members to recommend that Carter sign the FTC bill if the FTC's current cases are not thrown out.
House members of the conference committee appear ready to adopt such a bill, sources said. Ford, however, appears committed to the proposals in the Senate bill, for the moment at least stalemating the talks.