Clock runs out on efforts to make daylight saving time permanent

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This Sunday morning, Americans will participate in the annual fall act of “setting back” — setting their clocks back one hour to keep up with the time.

If some lawmakers have their way, it will be the end of a tradition that has spanned more than a century. But a mysterious story of meeting gridlock and ongoing protests, this is from commentators that some people jokingly call “Sleeping Big.”

A permanent “spring forward” bill has been stalled in Congress for more than seven months, as lawmakers trade jabs over whether the Senate should pass the legislation. what Home workers say they have been deluged by voters with split thoughts and warnings from sleep experts who say the use of extended working hours will more healthy, and political leaders admit they just don’t know what to do.

“We still can’t find approval in the House on this,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (DNJ) said in a statement to the Washington Post. “There are many opinions about whether to follow the situation, to move to a fixed time, and if so, what time it should be.”

Pallone, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees transition policies, also said he was wary of repeating Congress’ previous attempts to create a timetable. daylight hours were close to 50 years ago, which were quickly removed when the winter was declared dark. in the morning there are more traffic jams and more stress.

“We didn’t want to rush it and then have it backfired a few years after public opinion turned against it — which is what happened in the early 1970s,” Pallone said. said.

With lawmakers hitting the snooze button, little chance of legislation advancing during the lame-duck that follows next week’s election, aides in the parliament said.

The low-profile bill put an end to the weirdness that briefly riveted Congress, became fodder for late-night comics and fueled water-cooler debate. The Senate’s reluctant vote in March to allow states to permanently change their clocks caught some House members by surprise — and in a reversal of Washington dynamics, it is a slow building for Senate legislation.

Major congressional leaders who support long-term daylight saving time say they’re not sure their efforts are working, and are worried they’ll have to start over in the next Congress. At least 19 states in recent years have introduced legislation or passed resolutions that would allow them to regulate daylight saving time each year — but only if Congress sees it. good law prohibits the country from changing twice a year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who authored the Sunshine Protection Act, which passed the Senate in March, said in a statement. Senate staff noted that the bipartisan bill in the House, sponsored by 48 Republicans and Democrats, has been stalled for nearly two years in the Energy and Commerce Committee. led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

“I don’t know why the House is rejecting this bill – it seems like they’re rarely in the discussion – but I’m going to continue to make this a reality,” Rubio said, used to rest on his representatives in the parliament.

Rubio and his colleagues’ negative mood this fall is in contrast to their sunny celebrations when the Senate quickly passed their bill two days after the “spring for front” the clock is changing, with lawmakers still fighting for it as a revolutionary ideology.

“My phone has been ringing in support of this bill – from moms and dads who want more days before going to bed to seniors who want the sun in the evening to enjoy for the outdoors for farmers who can spend extra days working in the fields,” a fundraising email sent in March by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said. .

But behind the scenes, the bill was almost immediately clouded.

Some senators told reporters that they were surprised that the bill passed through the legislative process known as consent, which eliminates the need for debate or counting. really vote if no senator interferes with the measure, and wants more discussion. and legislative markups. Sleep experts and neurologists are quick to warn that moving away from the sun in the morning can harm circadian rhythms, sleep-wake cycles and health. all. Groups such as the Jewish faith have complained that moving the clocks later this winter will prevent them from praying in the morning after sunrise and still going to work and school accordingly. time.

There are also regional differences that will benefit the most from daylight saving time. Lawmakers in southern states like Florida argue that it will maximize sunlight for their residents this winter – but some people in the North The United States or in the west of the time, such as Indianapolis, will not see the sun for some time. in winter until 9 am

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And in the House, lawmakers and staff working on the issue pointed to studies that show deep divisions in public opinion about how to proceed. . While 64 percent of respondents to the March 2022 YouGov poll said they wanted to stop the clock changing twice a year, only half of those favored the change. exchange requires daylight saving time, while about a third supports it permanently. standard time and others are not clear.

“We know that the majority of Americans don’t want to change the time frame,” Schakowsky said in a statement to The Post, adding that he received phone calls for both parties. Time advocates consistently do not want children to wait late in the morning for the bus; The daylight saving time is always intended to help businesses enjoy more sunlight during business hours, he said.

A congressional aide who worked on the issue added: “We’re going to piss off half the country no matter what,” the aide said on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to discuss internally. decision making.

The White House has avoided taking a position on the law, and in interviews, officials have said that the problem is complex and affects the economy and health.

Pallone and other lawmakers said they are waiting on the Department of Transportation, which helps manage the schedule, to review the effects of the permanent change. While the transportation agency in September agreed to conduct the study, the deadline for that review – December 31, 2023 – indicates that the issue will not receive a decision. major in Congress until 2024 at the earliest.

And while lobbying efforts around the clock pale next to tens of billions of dollars spent by advocates for the so-called Big Pharma or Big Tech, some help in the political party jokes that the debate raised “Sleeping Great”: the attack by sleep doctors and Scientists who published a report that warned against daylight saving time, went to Capitol Hill to push lawmakers for a permanent transition period and seriously undermine their lobbying spending, according to review of government announcements.

For example, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, or AASM – which in recent years has focused its advocacy on issues such as the development of sleep apnea – this year includes the new in his portfolio: lobbying lawmakers on the Senate’s Sunshine Protection Act and “issues related to seasonal change.”

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AASM will also almost double its lobbying spending from $70,000 in the third quarter of 2021 to $130,000 in the third quarter of 2022. specialized in medicine and used to work for Schakowsky.

Daylight saving time debate roused the sleep-medicine academy’s attention, a director has confirmed.

“When the Sunshine Protection Act was passed by the Senate last spring, we decided that advocating for the creation of an appropriate time frame should be an immediate priority,” said Melissa Clark, AASM’s director of advocacy and public awareness, wrote in an email.

Clark added that AASM met with the offices of a dozen legislators to advocate for a permanent model period. “It’s a problem that affects everyone,” he wrote.

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

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

Josh Barro, a political activist who has repeatedly fought to preserve the current system, said that no daylight saving time and permanent time make sense.

“I think we have the system we have for a good reason…we have a certain amount of daylight in a day and it will vary depending on the axial tilt of the Earth. And we need the right in order to control it so that we wake up shortly after the sun in the morning,” said Barro. “It’s a government-sponsored coalition.”

Beth Ann Malow, a neurologist and sleep medicine researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said she continues to follow the standard schedule, a practice she has witnessed in the hearing in the hearing in the hearing earlier this year. But even Malow says that the United States will end up needing compromise – move the clock by 30 minutes, and then stay on track forever.

Malow said, “I know that when the process ends people and daylight savings time people are going to be disappointed because they’re not getting what they want, and we’re not going to be the same as the rest of the country. ,” Malow said. “But it’s a way to never go back.”

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