As expected, lawmakers introduced bills in both chambers of Congress late last week that would postpone the digital television (DTV) transition deadline from February 17 until June 12. Sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and by House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), the bills respond to calls by the Obama Administration to delay the transition date as a result of a recent run on converter box coupons that caused the NTIA DTV coupon program to run out of money early this month. Although the narrowly-tailored Rockefeller bill would only move up the transition deadline, the Waxman bill pending before the House would also allow the public to reapply for expired converter box coupons. At the behest of public safety organizations, Republicans in both houses of Congress are also pushing for provisions that would exclude from the transition delay 700 MHz analog television frequencies that are slated for reassignment to emergency first responders. Observers anticipate that an exemption for public safety channels will be added to the Waxman bill at mark-up. Republicans in both houses, however, are largely opposed to any postponement of the February 17 transition deadline and blocked efforts by Senate Democrats last week to fast-track the Rockefeller bill for a floor vote. (Instead, Republican leaders advocate legislation that would exempt the NTIA coupon program from the Anti- Deficiency Act and would thus permit the NTIA to resume coupon distribution immediately.) Although wireless carriers that won 700 MHz spectrum at auction last year also remain opposed to a delay, Verizon Wireless changed its earlier stance and joined AT&T this week in supporting a brief extension of the transition deadline. While agreeing that the June 12 deadline proposed in both the Rockefeller and Waxman bills “is appropriate,” Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg warned lawmakers that “any further delay would harm the nation’s economy and broadband future.”