Barton, Stearns Ask Pelosi To Delay DTV Vote

Invoked 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden in their plea
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Republicans were ramping up their opposition to moving the DTV transition date Tuesday.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), ranking Energy & Commerce Committee member Joe Barton (R-TX) and ranking Telecommunications Subcommittee Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) invoked 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden in their plea to call off the House vote on a Senate bill to delay the date to June 12.

The bill passed in the Senate Tuesday and is expected to pass in the House as well, but Barton was not going down without taking a few more swings. Earlier in the day, Barton issued a report from Republicans on the broadband stimulus package that also took aim at the initiative to move the date, calling it a potential disaster.

“Our public safety sector has been pleading since 1996 for access to the broadcast spectrum that would be freed up by the DTV transition, and which they need desperately for emergencies like 9/11,” wrote Barton and Stearns. “Instead they’ve become like the fictional refugees who got as far as Casablanca in the ’40s, only to ‘wait, and wait, and wait.’ Osama bin Laden isn’t fictional, and he isn’t waiting. That should be reason enough to go full speed ahead with the DTV transition. Instead we’re suspending the rules in order to wait, and wait, and wait?”

Barton and Stearns put in a plug for the Barton bill--H.R. 661--introduced last week--which would free up DTV-to-analog converter box coupons without changing the date. "We stand ready to work with you to quickly pass H.R. 661 or something similar so that those consumers who have requested a DTV converter box coupon can get one before the February 17 deadline. We need to keep our promise to public safety officials, wireless providers, broadcasters, and the American people."

"Waiting another half year [the delay is actually four months] also will not move a single television viewer off the coupon waiting list," they argued.