New digital transition delay bill likely to pass
The Senate moved quickly to pass a second bill that would allow a delay in the digital transition from Feb. 17 to June. The vote sends the issue back to the House, which killed the first bill (story here) but is expected to pass this second one.
The first bill was introduced on an expedited track. Under those circumstances, bills need a two-thirds majority to pass. The first bill was passed in the Senate (story here), but House Republicans voted as a block against the bill, limiting it to only 60 percent of votes.
The Senate, by approving a second version (pointedly by unanimous vote) and sending it back to the House, removes the requirement for a two-thirds majority; a simple majority will be enough to pass the second version.
Given that the percentage of votes the first bill received easily exceeded the minimum required for a simple majority, the second version is expected to pass handily. It can come up for consideration as early as next Tuesday.
The House yesterday approved an economic stimulus bill that includes an additional $650 million for the digital transition (story here), including money to replenish the depleted fund that supports coupons for digital converter boxes. That bill is under consideration in the Senate.