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Many concerned over Y2K hearing delays

U.S. Senators and industry observers voice concern about the ongoing impeachment trial possibly delaying hearings and pending legislation on the Y2K problem.

U.S. Senators and industry observers are voicing concern about the ongoing impeachment trial possibly delaying hearings and pending legislation on the Year 2000 technology problem.

Throughout the impeachment process, Democrats as well as a large part of the American public have demanded an end to the trial so the government can deal with other issues pressing issues. Because of its timely nature, many have placed the Year 2000 computer problem on the top of the agenda.

At a press conference today in Washington, Senator Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, vice-chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, said that despite what some of his colleagues are saying, Y2K issues are not being properly addressed.

"Unfortunately a lot of it is getting pushed to the side," Marvin Fast, Dodd's press secretary told CNET News.com. "Dodd has given his staff marching orders to work on Y2K as much as we can," but the impeachment is demanding a lot of attention, he said. "That's wrong."

According to the Senate's Y2K committee office, a hearing on the Y2K glitch's impact on the food supply industry has been rescheduled for next month.

It's not just Y2K getting second billing to the impeachment proceedings either. Fast said healthcare reform, social security, and other issues are getting put on the back burner as well.

Those who keep a close eye on the government's efforts to address the Year 2000 technology problem are concerned about the Senate's lengthy impeachment trial.

"Millions of Americans will be affected by [the Y2K issue]. It's sad that the Senate can't focus on an issue it has to focus on." said Dennis Grabow, CEO of the Millennium Investment.

But not all Y2K efforts have been completely pushed to the side or rescheduled.

According to Wilke Green, the minority press secretary on the Senate Y2K committee, Senators have submitted a number of bill proposals that deal with Y2K liability protection for companies that show good faith in their efforts to fix the problem. Also in the works is another proposal that frees up Small Business Association loan guarantees for companies dealing with Y2K.

And at the White House, President Clinton's point man on Y2K John Koskinen is still in regular contact with Senator Bob Bennett, the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.

"They still have their chat every Wednesday," said Koskinen's spokesman Jack Gribben.

But Green said it's not hard to notice some distraction amongst Y2K committee members. "It would be ridiculous to say the committee hasn't been affected," by the impeachment.

Reuters contributed to this report.