Efforts to make Daylight Saving Time permanent will run out


This Sunday morning, Americans will participate in the annual fall ritual of “falling back” – setting their clocks back one hour to align with standard time.

If some lawmakers had their way, it would mark the end of more than a century of tradition. But an undeniably common story about congressional gridlock and relentless lobbying, this one comes from advocates who some jokingly call “the big sleeper.”

The bill has stalled in Congress for more than seven months as lawmakers argue that the Senate should not have passed the bill. House officials said they were inundated with voters with divided opinions and warnings from sleep experts who instead insist that a permanent schedule would be healthier, and congressional leaders admitted they don’t know what to do.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a statement to The Washington Post: “We have not been able to find consensus in the House on this issue yet.” “There are differing opinions on whether to continue with the status quo, whether to move to permanent time and, if so, what time it should be.”

Pallone, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees climate change policies, said he was wary of repeating a previous attempt by Congress 50 years ago, which was quickly scrapped during the dark winter. Early mornings led to more car accidents and anxious feelings.

“We don’t want to make a change in a hurry and have it changed after several years of public opinion against it — which is what happened in the early 1970s,” Pallone said.

With lawmakers hitting the snooze button, there’s little chance the bill will be reformed in the lame-duck period that follows next week’s election, congressional aides said.

The bill’s quiet breakdown ends a rare event that briefly bedeviled Congress, became fodder for late-night jokes and fueled water cooler debate. The Senate’s unanimous vote in March to allow states to permanently change their clocks caught some members of the House by surprise — and, given the traditional Washington volatility, the House is delaying the Senate’s legislation.

Key senators who support permanent daylight saving time say they doubt their efforts will be defeated and will likely have to start over in the next Congress. In recent years, at least 19 states have enacted laws or passed resolutions allowing them to set daylight saving time year-round — but only if Congress passes legislation to end the nation’s biannual changes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“This is not a party or state issue, it’s common sense,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who authored the solar protection legislation that passed the Senate in March. The bipartisan companion legislation, sponsored by 48 Republicans and 48 Democrats, has stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) for two years.

“I don’t know why the House doesn’t want to pass this bill — there seem to be few in session — but I’m going to keep pushing to make this happen,” Rubio said in a swipe at his congressional counterparts.

The gloomy mood of Rubio and his colleagues is a contrast to their sunny celebrations this fall, when the Senate passed their bill two days after an abrupt “spring forward” clock change, while still embattled lawmakers campaigned for a common-sense reform.

My phone is ringing in support of this bill — from moms and dads who need more daylight before bed, to seniors who need more sunlight in the evenings to enjoy the outdoors, and to farmers who can use more daylight to work in the fields,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) sent a bill in March. A collection email said.

But behind the scenes, the bill’s prognosis was immediately clouded.

Some senators told reporters they were surprised the bill passed the House unanimously, which eliminates the need for debate or accurate vote counting if no senator opposes a measure, and would have preferred a more traditional series of hearings. and legal signs. Sleep experts and neurologists urgently warn that avoiding early morning sunlight can affect circadian rhythms, sleep cycles and overall health. Groups such as religious Jews complain that changing the clock later in the winter means they can’t pray after sunrise and still get to work and school on time.

There are also regional differences in who will benefit most from permanent daylight saving time. Legislators in southern states such as Florida argue that it increases sunlight for their residents in the winter – but some people living in the northern United States or living in western time zones, such as Indianapolis, do not see the sunrise. Winter days until 9 am

He also pointed to surveys that show deep differences in public opinion about how lawmakers and staff working on the issue should proceed in the House. In the year While 64 percent of respondents to a March 2022 YouGov poll said they wanted to end the twice-yearly clock changes, only half of those who supported a change wanted permanent daylight saving time, with a third supporting it. Regular time and others were not sure.

“We know most Americans don’t want to change the clock back and forth,” Schakowsky said in a statement to the Post, adding that she has received calls arguing for both sides. Proponents of permanent regular hours don’t want children waiting for the school bus on dark winter mornings; Proponents of permanent daylight saving time want to help businesses get more sunlight during business hours, she said.

“No matter what, we would have pissed off half the country,” said a congressional aide working on the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to discuss the matter openly internally. Consultation

The White House declined to take a position on the legislation, and administration officials in interviews said the issue was complicated and affected trade and health issues.

Pallone and other lawmakers said they are waiting for the Department of Transportation, which helps manage time zone enforcement, to assess the effects of permanently changing the hours. While the transportation agency agreed to conduct a study in September, the deadline for that analysis — Dec. 31, 2023 — suggests the issue may not be brought up again in Congress until 2024.

And while the afternoon lobbying effort pales in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars spent by Big Pharma or Big Tech advocates, some congressional aides joke that the debate has sparked a “big sleep”: concerted opposition from sleep doctors and researchers who have issued advocacy letters to Capitol Hill warning against permanent daylight savings time. They traveled to appoint lawmakers to permanent regular terms and dramatically increased their discretionary spending, according to a review of federal disclosures.

For example, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, or AASM — which in recent years has focused its advocacy efforts on issues such as improving sleep apnea care — included new priorities in its federal filings this year: lobbying lawmakers on the Senate’s Sunlight Protection Act and “keeping up with seasonal changes.” Related Matters”

AASM nearly doubled lobbying spending from $70,000 in the third quarter of 2021 to $130,000 in the third quarter of 2022, and added a lobbyist who specializes in health care and works for Schakowsky.

The Daylight Saving Time debate has caught the attention of the Academy of Sleep Medicine, an official confirmed.

“When the Sun Protection Act passed the Senate last spring, we determined that advocacy to establish a permanent schedule should be an immediate priority,” AASM Director of Advocacy and Public Outreach Melissa Clark wrote in an email.

Clark added that AASM has met with several legislators’ offices to advocate for permanent regularization. “This is a one-size-fits-all issue,” she wrote.

It is an issue that resonates abroad. Mexican lawmakers passed a law last month to end daylight saving time in most of the country, a move the country’s president quickly signed.

But not everyone agrees that change — any change — is necessary.

Josh Barrow, a political analyst who repeatedly argues for maintaining the current system, said that neither permanent daylight saving time nor permanent standard time make sense.

“I think we have the system we have for a good reason… We have a certain amount of daylight hours in the day and it varies depending on the axis of the Earth. And on most days, we need a way to manage waking up shortly after sunrise, Barrow said. “Of course, it is the government that solves the problem of coordination.”

Beth Ann Mallow, a neurologist and sleep medicine researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, testified at a congressional hearing earlier this year that she prefers regular routines. But even Mallow said the United States might want a compromise — moving the clock back 30 minutes and then staying that way permanently.

“I know that the people of permanent standard time and permanent daylight saving time are disappointed because people don’t get what they want and we stop matching other countries,” Mallow said. But it’s a way to stop going back and forth.

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