The Interstate Commerce Commission is running out of money and has told employees to stay home one day a week, beginning April 1, to stretch its available funds over the read of the fiscal year.
While employees of the commission, the government's oldest regulatory agency, might not mind staying home one day a week, they aren't happy about losing pay for that day, which is the equivalent of a 20% pay cut.
The budget problem stems from a dispute between the agency, which regulates the trucking and railroad industries, and Congress over how much money the ICC should have expected to get this fiscal year, which began last October.
Congress approved $48 million to run the agency, about $4.5 million less than what the Reagan Administration had proposed and what ICC officials believed they could eventually expect to get.
With the approval of the Office of Management and Budget, the ICC during the past six months set its spending at the levels proposed by the Administration. The extra costs, according to senior ICC officials, were expected to be covered by a supplemental appropriation, which is now bogged down on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Mark Andrews (R-N.D.), chairman of the transportation subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has held off approval of the supplemental funds, arguing that the Congress never promised that the additional money automatically would be made available.
"I don't think anybody feels any great earthshaking need to speed up taking care of the needs of an agency that has clearly overspent what they were told to spend," said Andrews in a telephone interview. He said the ICC knew since last June what money would be available.