Clocks run out in effort to make daylight saving time permanent


Early Sunday morning, Americans will participate in the annual fall ritual of “reversing” — turning the clocks back one hour to match standard time.

If some lawmakers get their way, it would mark the end of a tradition that has stretched back more than a century. But a familiar story, one that doesn’t involve a congressional gridlock and a relentless lobbying campaign, comes from what some jokingly call the “big sleep” advocates.

A permanent “move forward” bill has been stalled in Congress for more than seven months as lawmakers sparred over whether the legislation should be passed by the Senate. House officials said voters were divided, sleep experts warned that a permanent standard time would be healthier, and congressional leaders admitted they just didn’t know what to do.

“We haven’t reached a consensus on this in the House,” the Rep. said. Frank Pallone Jr. (DN.J.) said in a statement to The Washington Post. “There are various opinions on whether to keep the status quo, whether to enter a permanent time, and if so, when it should be.”

Pallone, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees time-change policy, also said he was wary of repeating Congress’ nearly 50-year-old attempt to introduce year-round daylight saving time, but the plan comes amid widely reported darker winters. Mornings were quickly repealed leading to more crashes and more dreary moods.

“We don’t want to make a change hastily and then reverse it a few years later after public opinion turns against it — which is exactly what happened in the early 1970s,” Pallone said.

With lawmakers already hitting the pause button, there is little chance of advancing legislation during the lame duck period following next week’s election, congressional aides said.

The quiet collapse of the bill ended an unusual episode that briefly captivated Congress, became fodder for late-night comics, and sparked a water cooler debate. The Senate unanimously voted in March to allow states to change the clock permanently, surprising some members of the House of Representatives — which, contrary to the traditional dynamic in Washington, has slowed the Senate’s legislation.

Leading senators who support permanent daylight saving time say they are puzzled that their efforts seem doomed and frustrated that they may have to start over in the next Congress. According to the National Conference, at least 19 states have enacted laws or passed resolutions allowing them to implement year-round daylight saving time in recent years — but only if Congress approves legislation to stop the country’s twice-yearly time changes. state legislature.

“It’s not a partisan or regional issue, it’s a matter of common sense,” the senator said. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is a co-author of the Sunshine Protection Act, which passed the Senate in March, he said in a statement. Senate staff noted that the House bipartisan companion bill, backed by 48 Republicans and Democrats, had been on hold for nearly two years on an energy and commerce subcommittee chaired by the House of Representatives. Jan Shakowski (D-Ill.).

“I don’t know why the House refused to pass this bill — they don’t seem to meet very often — but I’m going to keep trying to make it happen,” Rubio said, lashing out at his congressional counterparts.

Rubio and his colleagues’ gloomy mood this fall contrasted with their sunny celebrations, when the Senate abruptly passed their bill two days after the “spring-forward” clock change, and lawmakers still groggy Election as a common-sense reform.

“My phone has been ringing in support of this bill – from parents who want more daylight before bed, to seniors who want more sunshine at night to enjoy the outdoors, to working with extra daylight farmer field,” a fundraising email sent by the senator in March. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said.

But behind the scenes, the bill’s forecast turned cloudy almost immediately.

Some senators told reporters they were surprised the bill passed a parliamentary process known as unanimous consent, where there is no need for debate or actual vote counting if no senator opposes a measure, and hoped for a more traditional series. Hearings and Legislative Markups. Sleep experts and neurologists urgently warn that staying away from early morning sunlight can impair circadian rhythms, sleep-wake cycles and overall health. Groups such as religious Jews have complained that moving clocks later in the winter prevents them from doing morning prayers after the sun rises and still being on time for work and school.

There are also regional differences in who will benefit the most from permanent daylight saving time.Lawmakers in southern states like Florida believe this will provide their residents with maximum sunlight during the winter months — but some people who live in the northern U.S. or on the western edge of the time zone, like Indianapolis, don’t see it in some areas Sunrise Winter to 9am

In the House of Representatives, lawmakers and staffers working on the issue pointed to the survey showing deep divisions in public opinion on how to proceed. In a March 2022 YouGov poll, 64% of respondents said they want to stop changing clocks twice a year, but only about half who support the change want daylight saving time permanent, while about a third support Perpetual Standard Time and others are not sure.

“We know that most Americans don’t want to keep switching the clock back and forth,” Shakowski said in a statement to The Washington Post, adding that she had received calls in support of both parties. Perpetual Standard Time advocates don’t want kids waiting for school buses on dark winter mornings; Perpetual Daylight Saving Time supporters want to help businesses get more sunshine during business hours, she said.

A congressional aide who has been working on the issue was more blunt: “We’re going to annoy half the country anyway,” said the aide, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss internal issues publicly. deliberation.

The White House has avoided commenting on the legislation, and in interviews, administration officials said the issue is complex and affects trade and health issues.

Pallone and other lawmakers said they were waiting for the Department of Transportation, which helps manage time zone enforcement, to review the impact of permanently changing the clock. While the transport agency agreed in September to conduct a study, the deadline for that analysis was Dec. 2. March 31, 2023 – This suggests the issue may not be seriously considered again in Congress until 2024 at the earliest.

While the round-the-clock lobbying efforts pale in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars spent by so-called Big Pharma or Big Tech advocates, some congressional aides joked that the debate has awakened a “big sleep”: Sleep Unanimous resistance from doctors and a review of federal disclosures led researchers to send out propaganda letters against permanent daylight saving time, travel to Capitol Hill to pitch to lawmakers on permanent standard time, and significantly increase their lobbying spending.

For example, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) – which in recent years has focused its advocacy on issues such as improving sleep apnea care – included new priorities in its federal filing this year: on the Senate’s Sunshine Protection Act and “Problems related to seasonal time changes.”

The AASM also nearly doubled its 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 issues and has worked for Schakowsky.

An official confirmed that the daylight saving time debate has caught the attention of the School of Sleep Medicine.

“When the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act last spring, we determined that advocating for a permanent standard time needed to be a top priority,” Melissa Clark, AASM’s director of advocacy and public awareness, wrote in an email.

Clark added that the AASM has met with dozens of lawmakers’ offices to advocate for permanent standard time. “This is an issue that is relevant to everyone,” she wrote.

It’s also an issue that resonates abroad. Mexican lawmakers passed legislation last month that ended daylight saving time in much of the country, a measure that the country’s president quickly signed into law.

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

Political commentator Josh Barro, who has repeatedly advocated keeping the current system, says neither permanent daylight saving time nor permanent standard time make sense.

“I think there’s a good reason we have the systems we have…we have a certain amount of daylight in our day and it varies based on the axial tilt of the earth. We need a way to manage it so that we are in most Days wake up shortly after sunrise,” Barrow said. “It’s really the government addressing coordination issues.”

Beth Ann Malow, a neurologist and sleep medicine researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, stressed her continued support for perpetual standard time, a position she testified at a congressional hearing earlier this year. But even Marlowe said the U.S. may eventually have to compromise — move the clock by 30 minutes and leave it that way forever.

“I know people in permanent standard time and people in permanent daylight saving time are going to be disappointed that they don’t get what they want, and we’re going to be out of sync with other countries,” Marlowe said. “But it’s a way to stop going back and forth.”

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