At press time, a Senate stand-off over unemployment insurance
and the deficit held the satellite reauthorization bill hostage.
The Senate had adjourned with no vote on a package of extensions, including a
second extension for the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization
Act to March 28. The package was held up due to one Republican's concerns about
the impact of COBRA and unemployment insurance benefits, which were also part
of the extension package.
That means that at midnight Feb. 28, unless the Senate is called back into
session, DISH and DirecTV's license to deliver distant network affiliate
TV signals to viewers across the country will be revoked.
Republican sources say they had a deal on a bill, with tougher conditions for
DISH's reentry into the distant-signal business, but that leadership would not
separate it out from a jobs bill that has yet to be voted on, betting that the
extension would pass. The source also said the House had some problems with a
five-year extension meeting pay-as-you-go accounting requirements, but that the
Republicans also were OK with a 10-year extension, which would have meant the
bill was deficit neutral.
"As it stands, said the Republican staffer, "the Senate is in recess
and the bill has not been extended." The Majority leader could not be
reached for comment.