WASHINGTON — The House voted Tuesday to set up a $500-million loan program to help small businesses fix their computers before the "millennium bug" strikes Jan. 1.
The Small Business Year 2000 Readiness Act, approved in the Republican-controlled House by voice vote, would help employers buy new computers or upgrade their old ones to eliminate the glitch, which could cause systems to crash or malfunction.
The Senate passed the same bill earlier this month. It now goes to President Clinton.
Under the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), loans would also be made available to help small-business owners if major suppliers, customers or creditors experience Y2K computer breakdowns.
A recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 4.75 million small employers face Y2K problems. It warned that 750,000 of them could be forced to shut down or would be severely crippled if their computers are not fixed in time.