Senate leaders and the White House have agreed on legislation to protect businesses that make good-faith efforts at year-2000 disclosures.

Their bill, touted Wednesday at a bipartisan press conference, would provide limited liability protection to companies that make honest year- 2000 statements that later are proven wrong. Sponsors of the bill said they hoped it would alleviate fears and promote openness.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the bill today. The committee's chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he expected the measure to pass.

Several lawmakers stressed that the bill is only a partial solution to year-2000 liability issues and that further legislation would be needed next year. Sen. Hatch said the group avoided "anything controversial" in the current bill to ensure its passage this year.

The bill would not protect companies from lawsuits stemming from actual year-2000 failures. It also would not cover year-2000 disclosures required by the Securities and Exchange Commission or disclosures made to banking regulators.

Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said the SEC and banking regulators have their own rules concerning year-2000 statements.

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