A bipartisan group of senators has tried and failed, for Congress after Congress, to keep America on Daylight Saving Time permanently. Until Tuesday, when their bright idea finally cleared the chamber.
Just two days after the nation’s latest stressful “spring forward” to the later sunsets of daylight saving time, the Senate unanimously and surprisingly passed Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) bill to lock the clocks. The quick and consequential move happened so fast that several senators said afterward they were unaware of what had just happened.
Shortly after the Senate came back from a recess for a GOP lunch and a Democratic visit to the White House, Rubio took to the floor and passed a bill with a name befitting his state, the Sunshine Protection Act.
“If we can get this passed, we don’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore,” Rubio said. “Why we would enshrine this in our laws and keep it for so long is beyond me.”
As he made his request, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), presiding over the Senate, appeared to exclaim: “Oh, I love it.”
Though some senators had offered objections to the proposal in recent days, all of them melted away in the end, said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), one of Rubio’s partners on the bill. He said the bill’s backers intentionally waited until the nation was reeling from yet another time change, which occurred on Sunday: “We did try and get it done once the clocks had just changed. Because it made it more timely.”
But the drama isn’t over yet. Whitehouse said he has not received an assurance from Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the permanent-DST bill’s future in the House. Rubio said he hoped colleagues across the Capitol would “act quickly on it” and summed things up: “Pardon the pun, but: This is an idea whose time has come.”
Rubio said the legislation’s implementation would be delayed until November 2023 to accommodate industries in the transportation sector, like airlines and trains, that already have schedules set. The House could also theoretically amend the bill to change its implementation date, which would require further Senate action.
A House Democratic leadership aide was not immediately available for comment on whether the chamber would act on the measure. But there will be immense pressure on both parties to move; Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said that since he joined Rubio’s bill, his office’s phones have been “ringing off the hook” in support of keeping clocks permanently moved forward.
“Americans want more sunshine and less depression,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said as she hailed the measure on the floor.
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