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DTV legislation remains in holiday limbo

Though both bodies of Congress have agreed to the specific terms for legislation that would end the DTV transition, the measure is now caught up in a holiday limbo and is still not law.

Because the DTV legislation is a small part of a far larger and more contentious $40 billion budget-cutting package, its fate now rests with legislators who are battling over potent election-year issues that include student loans, health care, child support and aid to low income families.

The budget legislation passed the Senate only after Vice President Dick Cheney cast a tie-breaking vote before the holiday. It now awaits House approval, a dicey issue since it originally passed by only six votes. Whether those votes hold after the holiday is anybody’s guess.

Aware of the danger of postponing the vote, the House Republican leadership failed to get passage of the bill by voice vote in the final hours before the holiday recess when Democrats, who opposed to the legislation, threw up a procedural roadblock.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi rebuffed Speaker Dennis Hastert when he tried to pass the bill without all members present. Pelosi, who wanted members to be on the record with their vote, would not go along with Hastert.

The DTV legislation is immersed in the broader budgetary issues because Congress is counting on the sale of analog broadcast spectrum to raise at least $10 billion for the federal budget.

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