Treasury Under Secretary John D. Hawke Jr. on Monday rejected congressional calls to delay a rule requiring the government to pay most benefits electronically as of Jan. 1, 1999.

"We will be able to meet the Jan. 1 deadline for recipients who are able to use their own bank accounts to receive their payments, and ... we can do so without compromising any of their interests," Mr. Hawke wrote in a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato.

The New York Republican last week urged the Clinton administration to delay the rule after it removed Russell D. Morris from his post as commissioner of Treasury's cash management arm, which is implementing the electronic funds transfer program. Sen. D'Amato said he is worried the rule will hurt the elderly and others without bank accounts. -Jaret Seiberg

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