Almost immediately after the House finally passed the DTV Delay Act with its do-over vote on Wednesday, February 4, the Commission hustled out a new set of DTV transition procedures (on February 5), some of which require broadcaster action as early as Monday, February 9, and all of which are based on the assumption that the transition deadline has been officially moved back to June 12.
But hold your horses. Constitutional tradition – wait, it’s really more of a specific and express constitutional requirement, isn’t it? – provides that, with certain extraordinary exceptions, an Act of Congress doesn’t become law until the President signs off on it. And that had not happened, at least as of February 5, or even February 8.
While nobody has any serious doubt about the outcome here – President Obama has made his support for the DTV delay abundantly clear – the problem is that he also has made a “commitment to introducing more sunlight into the lawmaking process by posting non-emergency legislation online for five days before signing it.” Notwithstanding the FCC’s seeming sense of urgency, the White House apparently views the DTV Delay Act as “non-emergency”, since it has posted the Act on-line for public comment.
It’s not clear when the White House’s self-imposed five-day holding period started. If the first day was the date that the House passed the bill, then Obama could sign it into law as early as Monday, February 9. Of course, if the White House views its solicitation of public comment as anything more than 100% political charade, it may hold off at least a day or two so that it can review and consider (or at least pretend to have reviewed and considered) whatever comments may have been submitted – in which case the President may not ink the deal until later in the week. We shall see.