The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet this morning to start up legislation to assure that the food stamp program will have enough money to keep going full force.
The committee will consider a bill providing $2.5 billion for food stamps and $1.6 billion for disaster relief programs, black lung benefits and other programs running out of funds.
These supplemental appropriations had been delayed because Congress has breached the spending ceiling it set for itself last fall.
The ceiling still hasn't been raised, but the House Tuesday adopted a provision that ultimately will result in raising it. House leaders decided that was enough to start the supplemental spending bill moving. l
Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland had told the governors Monday that if Congress doesn't vote more money by May 15 he will have to suspend the food stamp program as of June 1. The money the committee is considering is intended to carry the program through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.
The bill also would carry a $55 million appropriation to keep the Federal Trade Commission alive, but this would not become available until the FTC's authorization bill is enacted. Conferees agreed on that bill yesterday, but the conference report is not expected to clear Congress until next week, and the FTC was preparing to close down temporarily as of last midnight.
Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.) said he would try to write a provision into the appropriation bill keeping the FTC alive in the interim, but that bill probably won't clear Congress until next week either.