U.S. senators announce compromise on Y2K bill

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I imagine this will be in the papers tomorrow. Here's a preview:


U.S. senators announce compromise on Y2K bill

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans said on Wednesday they had reached a compromise with key Democrats on legislation limiting lawsuits against companies stemming from the year 2000 computer bug.

The compromise was reached after Republicans dropped a controversial provision that would have protected individual corporate officers and directors.

The bill, by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, would delay the filing of Year 2000 computer bug lawsuits during a 30-to-90 day ``cooling-off'' period and make it harder for consumers to sue companies because of computer crashes next Jan. 1.

Under an agreement with Democrats Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Dianne Feinstein of California and other lawmakers, McCain agreed to amendments boosting consumer protection and eliminating most caps on punitive damages and personal liability.

``I think we have an agreement that would be able to move this issue forward,'' McCain, an Arizona Republican, said.

Congressional aides said the legislation still faced procedural hurdles, which could hold up a final vote in the Senate, expected on Friday.

It was unclear whether the changes would satisfy the White House, which has threatened to veto the bill. It was also unclear how many Democrats would sign onto the agreement with Feinstein and Dodd, who is vice-chairman of the Senate's special committee on the Year 2000 problem.

-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), April 28, 1999


P - F - M !!!!! Can't ANYONE say the word CONSEQUENCES or RESPONSIBILITIES without pointing at SOMEONE ELSE?????? First we ignore the problem until it could be a showstopper, then we half fix it but don't tell anyone there really might be a problem. THEN we go get a "Get out of Jail Free" card.

FEHHH.... Chuck

-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 29, 1999.

This is WHY politicians and Y2K just dont mix!

*Big Sigh*


Y2K bill short-circuited by politics JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer Thursday, April 29, 1999

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/04/29/national0209EDT0466.DTL

(04-29) 08:32 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) -- Computer shutdowns were the issue, but political meltdown was the problem as the Senate ran into more trouble today with legislation to control lawsuits arising from Year 2000 computer breakdowns.

On a 52-47, with all Democrats voting no, the Senate rejected an effort to move the Y2K toward a final vote. Sixty votes are needed to shut off debate in the Senate.

Democrats' opposition had little to do with the computer issue; what they want, before allowing the bill to go forward, is a promise from the Republican leadership that they will get a vote soon on Democratic priorities, including a raise in the minimum wage.

``The Y2K problem is not going away, nor is it going to be postponed by petty partisan procedural wrangling,'' promised Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chief sponsor. But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the bill was dead until Democrats agreed to let it go forward.

The bill grows out of widespread concern that disruptions caused by the Year 2000 computer glitch will result in the worst flood of lawsuits in American history.

It gives companies 90 days to fix computers before lawsuits go forward, encourages mediation, puts caps on some punitive damage awards and limits class-action lawsuits.

But any effort to limit lawsuits is a political minefield in Washington, and from the beginning consumer and attorney groups have accused the business community of using the Y2K issue as a first step toward reducing their liability for faulty products.

A fierce lobbying campaign has had the U.S. Chamber of Commerce leading the proponents while Democrats saw two of their biggest allies, the pro-bill high tech industry and anti-bill trial lawyers, pulling them in opposite directions.

The high-profile Y2K issue also generated a spate of similar bills, with a proposal by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R- Utah, competing for floor time with that of McCain, the Commerce Committee chairman, and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., vice chairman of the Senate's special Y2K panel.

McCain, a presidential candidate, won out and Hatch, while insisting that he doesn't care whose name is on the final package has moved into the background.

Dodd, whose support is crucial to winning Democratic votes, has used that leverage to win concessions from McCain. Dodd's changes include making punitive damage caps apply only to individuals and small businesses and modifying language that would have made business directors and officers exempt from Y2K liability.

Despite those compromises, floor progress was glacial because Democrats, in time-honored Senate maneuvering, threatened to use the Y2K issue as a vehicle to bring minimum wage and other Democratic priorities to the floor.

Republicans defeated, 55-44 a move by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to attach a minimum wage increase amendment to the bill, but only after spending most of the day in sometimes rancorous exchanges on and off the floor.

``Withdraw this foolishness,'' a frustrated McCain said to Kennedy. McCain said he had ``begged for the last four days'' for someone to come forward with a relevant amendment.

Kennedy said the minimum wage was a national priority that Republicans are going to have to face and was unapologetic about his tactics. ``This place is just made for that kind of guerrilla operations.''

Even if the McCain-Wyden bill survives the Senate, it must still be reconciled with a bill working its way through the House that has yet to undergo the pro-consumer changes that Wyden and Dodd have put in the Senate bill.

And the administration has said that McCain-Wyden, in its present form, would face a presidential veto because it ``would reduce the liability these defendants may face, even if they do nothing'' to fix computer problems.

McCain urged American businesses to ``take careful note of the administration's absolute opposition to an effort which would solve this very, very serious issue.'' Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said that in the end he didn't think either President Clinton or Vice President Al Gore, who has long associated himself with high- tech causes, could support a veto.

``The president is a pretty savvy guy,'' Donohue said. ``He will think about it carefully for the simple reason that this is something that affects the whole nation.''

The bill is S.96.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 29, 1999.

zzz@z.z), April 29, 1999.

McCain Remains Hopeful On Y2K Litigation Deal.

-- regular (zzz@z.z), April 29, 1999.

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