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DTV Delay: House, Senate Could Take Second Stab - Broadcasting & Cable

DTV Delay: House, Senate Could Take Second Stab

Waxman says he is working with Obama Administration to explore available options
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The DTV date-move bill is down, but apparently not quite out.

"I am working with the Obama Administration and congressional leadership to explore all available options," said House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman late Wedneday, commenting on the defeat earlier in the day of a fast-tracked Senate bill to delay the DTV transition date to June 12.

“I am very disappointed the House Republicans blocked the DTV extension today in the House,” said Chairman Waxman. “Their vote has wasted valuable time and will cause needless confusion for consumers. A clear majority in Congress supports postponing the transition and providing assistance to the millions of households that are unprepared," he said

The Senate passed the date-delay bill unanimously Monday, and a majority of House members did, too (258 to 168). But to prevent amendments and other delays, the House vote was "on suspension," which is a way of getting quick action by limiting debate and barring amendments. But the quid pro quo is that it has to pass by a two-thirds, rather than a simple, majority. It didn't, despite broadcasters, advertisers, ad agencies, wireless companies, and some first responder groups either supporting the move or saying they could live with it.

One of the options for reviving the bill would be to hold another vote on the bill under regular rules.

Bill opponents could try to delay it by loading it up with amendments, but Democrats could veto them. Lobbyists following the issue suggested that is what the Democratic leadership would try to do, and at least one still thought the date would ultimately be delayed despite Wednesday's obvious setback.

According to a Senate source, the current plan is to hotline the House version of the Senate bill Wednesday night. That means a vote on unanimous consent. And that means that no Senator may object, a more problematic call now that the House Repbublican Leadership is on the record against the bill.

But if the new version clears again, the House would get a shot at it on regular order next Tuesday or Wednesday. The House is out until then due to previously scheduled party retreats.

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