Emergency funding for 2000 remains uncertain

Replacing the
money in the House bills during a Senate and House conference is out, Morra said.

The House Appropriations Committee hasn’t moved to create a separate year 2000
funding bill after House conservatives stripped emergency year 2000 money—needed for
date code repair—from three appropriations bills.

Conservative lawmakers who pushed to have the funds removed said they don’t
question that money is needed, but they want it to come from existing agency budgets.

The emergency funding has been in limbo since the House removed it from the
appropriations bills last month. House lawmakers are at odds over what constitutes an
emergency. House rules don’t require budgets for emergency funding requests [GCN, July 13, Page 3].

One option, replacing the money in the House bills during Senate and House conference
meetings next month, is out, House Appropriations communications director Elizabeth Morra
said. “Our conservatives are not going to go along with that,” she said.

The second option, coming up with the money by cutting other programs, would be
difficult, Morra said. “We don’t know where we would find $4 billion in
offsets,” she said.

One hope is that the Republican leadership will get fellow conservatives to let go of
the issue because everyone seems to agree that the money is crucial, another committee
source said.

The dispute has jeopardized almost $4 billion in year 2000 money, which several
agencies are seeking.

Civilian agencies would have received $2.25 billion for date code work under the House
Treasury, Postal Service Appropriations Act, HR 4104. Another $1.6 billion had been slated
for the Defense Department as part of its appropriations bill, HR 4103.

“From my perspective, I’m not concerned about where they provide it, but I am
very concerned that it be provided with adequate amounts and in an appropriate time
frame,” John Koskinen, chairman of the President’s Council on the Year 2000
Conversion, said last month.

“If this gets caught inadvertently in the endgame that comes down to the end of
the fiscal year, that will present a major challenge and risk to agency work on the year
2000,” Koskinen said.

“We must make sure that we take the steps, whether it is in this bill or a
separate supplemental appropriation bill, to get that money to these agencies that is
absolutely necessary,” said Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chairman of the House
Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government.

Treasury Department chief information officer James Flyzik said his department has
requested $250 million for fiscal 1999 and another $250 million in supplemental money to
fix date codes. This year, Treasury will spend $900 million, he said.

If the supplemental money is held up, the department will need to concentrate on the
most critical systems first, Flyzik said. He said his agency is taking a wait-and-see
attitude, letting the Office of Management and Budget and Congress work out the dispute.

There may be a hint at a break in the stalemate. One step the House Appropriations
Committee has made is to ask the administration for clarification of its year 2000 needs,
Morra said.

The Senate in August approved $3.25 billion in year 2000 emergency work as part of its
Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations bill, S 2312.  


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