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DTV-Delay Bill Fails To Pass In House

By: John Eggerton, Multichannel News

The House Wednesday failed to follow the Senate's lead and pass a DTV date-change bill, putting the move of the DTV transition date in doubt after all the momentum seemed to be moving toward the four-month delay to June 12.

It was also something of a defeat for the Obama administration, which had pushed Congress to move the date, citing the problems in distributing DTV-to-analog converter box coupons and a lack of funding for DTV education. Republicans pushed back hard, saying it was a solution in search of a problem.

The vote was 258 to 168 in favor of changing the date, but under House expedited rules, a 2/3 majority was required for approval.

A spokesperson for Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) had no immediate comment on what the next move will be, but ranking Republican Joe Barton (R-TX) has a bill that would pump more money into the coupon box program without moving the date.

The Senate had passed a compromise bill Monday by unanimous consent, and Waxman had cancelled a markup on his DTV date change bill to get behind the Senate version.

But while no Republican senator opposed the bill, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, actively supported the compromise bill, the House was an entirely different story.

The House had debated the bill Tuesday night, with a parade of Republicans in opposition and only House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher holding down the fort for the bill's proponents.

The Energy & Commerce Committee's ranking member, Joe Barton, was dead set against moving the date, calling it a potential disaster and saying the $650 million being set aside for reissued coupons for millions of people was a pot of money in search of a problem.


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