Posted at 2:15 p.m. ET
Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar said she believes the House will pass the DTV date-changing bill next week and that it will hit the president's desk soon after.
Klobuchar, a big supporter of changing the date from Feb. 17 to June 12, was being interviewed for C-SPAN's Communicators series. Klubuchar's state has some of the highest analog-only TV viewing, including more than 20% in Minneapolis-St. Paul, she pointed out.
Klobuchar conceded that the early DTV transitions in Wilmington and Hawaii have gone "fairly well." But she said one of the things those transitions revealed was that people waited until the last minute to get their converter box coupons even though they were aware of the transition.
"Suddenly, [the government] is out of coupons. We had told the American people that this wasn't going to cost them a lot...This gives us until June 12 to at least make sure that those coupons and converter boxes are available to the six million people who haven't done anything about it."
Asked whether people won't just do the same thing and wait until the last minute again, she conceded that would probably happen. "I think people will, but you have to have the coupons available," she said. "This is more than just about just watching TV for fun," she said, first referencing "Wheel of Fortune," then changing it to C-SPAN in a shout-out to her hosts. "It is also about getting emergency information for weather emergencies like tornados and ice storms," she said. "It's not 'just television.' "
For example, Klobuchar said that she and her husband were glued to the TV set this week during the ice strom in Virginia to find out whether their daughter's school was going to be closed the next day. "I think its pretty unfair just to sit above and say, 'well, my TV works because I have cable but 20% of you may be in trouble.'"
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) proposed a bill that would free up funding immediately for the coupons without changing the date, as contrasted with the date-changing bill, which has to wait for the economic stimulus package and its $650 million in funding to start the coupons flowing. Why wasn't that the answer?
"There are three million people on the waiting list and if they really think in these last two weeks that are left that we are going to be able to take care of all those people on the waiting list, I don't think it is worth inconveniencing all those peope.... We know there are still going to be problems. It's not going to be perfect, but it will give this new aminisration some time to get this done right.
The Obama transition team three weeks ago called on Congress to move the date.