OMB official: Senate set to grab Y2K money

OMB official: Senate set to grab Y2K money

The Senate is making a grab for $973 million in emergency Y2K funding that Congress appropriated last year, an Office of Management and Budget official told House lawmakers Tuesday.

OMB Acting Deputy Director for Management Deidre Lee urged House lawmakers to block the Senate move in conference negotiations over the fiscal 1999 emergency supplemental appropriations bill, S. 544.

"Not only would it eliminate the remaining balance in the emergency fund, but it would also force agencies to stop planned and ongoing procurements for Y2K-related activities," she said at a joint hearing held by the House Government Reform and Science committees on federal Y2K readiness.

Rep. Stephen Horn, R-Calif., chairman of the House Government, Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee, told National Journal's Technology Daily that Lee's claims are "demagoguery" by the Clinton administration, and declined further comment.

Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md., who heads the House Science Committee's technology subcommittee, said this was the first she had heard of Y2K funding being eliminated through the emergency appropriations bill.

"I think we need to contact [Sen.] Bob Bennett and find out what's happening over there," she told National Journal's Technology Daily, referring to the head of the Senate special Y2K committee.

"Everything is on the table," said Don Meyer, spokesman for the Senate Y2K committee. "There's only about $500 million left, and we'd like to see that preserved."

S. 544 would appropriate $2.4 billion to provide, in part, disaster assistance to hurricane victims in Central America. The House version, H.R. 1141, would provide $1.3 billion in emergency funding.

Congress last year approved a total of $3.25 billion for federal Y2K repair efforts, with $1.1 billion dedicated to Defense Department Y2K fixes.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has said he's willing to forward funding to help federal Y2K efforts, although his panel voted to take back what's left of last year's emergency funding. Calls to the Appropriations Committee were not returned.

OMB had not distributed all of the funds, and White House Y2K czar has repeatedly said that no further federal funding would be needed beyond the 1998 emergency funds.

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