Congress voted funds yesterday to keep the food stamp program going and sent it to the White House in time to head off an order that would have suspended it as of June 1.
House-Senate conferees worked out an agreement that was speedily ratified by the House, 316 to 36, and by the Senate, 57 to 17, to keep going at full speed the food subsidy program that helps 21 million people.
The agreement was to approve the $2.55 billion voted by the House to finance the program for the final four months of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, but to include language saying that if this wasn't enough Congress could vote up to $445 million more to bring it up to the level voted to the Senate.
The program will almost certainly need the larger amount. The $2.55 billion was submitted by the administration in January before recession set in and unemployment started to climb. But House conferees said that until the budget resolution raising this year's spending ceiling -- now being worked on in a separate conference -- has been aproved, they are forbidden by their rules from approving any more money than the House had voted. The $2.55 billion is expected to carry the program through August, when the higher spending ceiling should be in place.