House leaders want to take up daylight saving time bill — later
A proposal to make daylight saving time permanent is finding bipartisan support in the House after its passage in the Senate.
But it’s unclear when – or if – the lower chamber will take up the legislation as leaders punt the effort to the back burner in favor of other pressing matters, including responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Word of the proposal passing in the upper chamber Tuesday quickly rocketed across both traditional and social media, one of the few pieces of news to break through almost wall-to-wall coverage of the crisis in Ukraine and gas prices at home. House members on both sides of the aisle almost immediately voiced their support for the push, despite appearing caught off-guard by its swift path through the Senate.
“I think it just caught us all by surprise that the Senate actually produced something and sent it to us. Usually — usually bills go the other way,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters early Wednesday.
The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent Tuesday afternoon, using a fast-track procedure that requires every senator to agree.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday told The Hill she supports doing away with the semiannual time switch. But she wouldn’t provide further details about when the House could take up the matter, particularly with leaders working with the administration to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We didn’t realize they were acting so quickly and dispositively of it,” Pelosi said. “I, myself, support making daylight saving time permanent. I think it’s not going to be much of an issue for us. But we have to socialize it in our caucus, and our Congress, not just the caucus.”
But she quickly added that lawmakers also have “important work to be doing,” as the Biden administration seeks tougher action on Russia, including its recent push to revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), lead sponsor of the daylight saving time proposal, urged the House to move swiftly on the legislation. That call has also been echoed by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who is pushing for the measure in the lower chamber.
“It’s time to end the antiquated practice of changing our clocks twice a year, which is why I’m leading a letter to Speaker Pelosi calling for immediate consideration of my bill with Sen. Rubio, the Sunshine Protection Act,” Buchanan said.
The proposal’s passage on Tuesday came days after much of the nation saw their clocks spring forward one hour on Sunday for daylight saving time. The change will remain until early November.
However, under the newly passed proposal, daylight saving time would be made permanent, starting November 2023, meaning most who changed their clocks at that time of year would no longer have to.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) also pressed for speedy action on the legislation, saying on Wednesday afternoon, “The funny thing about this place is we have the ability and the capacity to handle multiple issues at one time.”
“The members, for the most part, have thought about these issues for a very long time. We can lean on some of these issues. So, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to obviously be focused on Ukraine” while taking up daylight saving time and other legislation, Donalds added.
Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) also said if Pelosi decided to move on the bill, “it could pass very quickly.”
But other members say the proposal is not a priority as lawmakers continue to focus on the devastation unfolding in Ukraine.
“I’m really thinking about dying people and I’m thinking about what’s going on in Ukraine. We just had the president here. I don’t give a damn about what people think about it,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Wednesday, referring to the Senate-passed proposal.
“To be candid, it’s not been on my radar. We got other things that have been more front and center,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill on Wednesday afternoon, adding lawmakers remain “focused on Ukraine,” following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent address to Congress.
While House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) didn’t provide a timeline on when the chamber would act on the legislation in remarks to reporters on Wednesday, he noted lawmakers had months to pass the proposal.
“Everybody seems to be very concerned about this, and I understand that. There could be some urgency to it. But it’s not like something’s gonna happen. We’re gonna have daylight saving time at least until November, I guess,” Hoyer said. “So, it’s not like if we don’t act today we’ll either lose an hour or gain an hour tomorrow.”
Pressed about the effort on Wednesday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Biden administration “didn’t have a specific position” on the legislation.
Expert testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee pointed to health risks associated with switching to and from daylight saving time. Neurology professor Beth A. Malow cited a review “linking the annual transition to [daylight saving time] to increased strokes, heart attacks, and teen sleep deprivation.”
Alex Gangitano and Jordain Carney contributed.
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