©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Staff from the Capitol Architect wind the Ohio Clock at the US Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Congressional push to make daylight saving time permanent, passed unanimously by the Senate earlier this year, has stalled in the House of Representatives, with a key lawmaker telling Reuters they could not reach consensus.
In March, the Senate voted to end the twice-yearly clock-changing next year, which proponents say will result in brighter afternoons and more economic activity.
US Representative Frank Pallone, chairman of the Energy and Trade Committee overseeing the issue, said in a statement to Reuters that the House of Representatives is still trying to figure out how to proceed.
“We have not yet been able to find a consensus on this in the House. Opinions differ widely on whether to maintain the status quo, transition to a permanent time, and if so, what time that should be.” Pallone, a Democrat, said, adding that opinions are based on regions, not parties be broken down.
Legislative advisers told Reuters they don’t expect Congress to reach an agreement before the end of the year. Senate supporters would have to reintroduce the bill next year if it doesn’t pass by the end of the year.
Daylight Saving Time has been in effect in almost all of the United States since the 1960s. Year-round daylight saving time was used during World War II and was reinstated in 1973 to reduce energy use due to an oil embargo, only to be lifted a year later.
“We don’t want to make a hasty change and then reverse it a few years later after public opinion turned against it — that’s what happened in the early 1970s,” Pallone said.
Standard time will resume in the United States at 2:00 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) on Sunday, November 6th.
Pallone previously said he supports ending the time change but has not yet decided whether to support daylight saving time or standard time as a permanent choice.
Proponents also argue that if approved, the so-called Sun Protection Act would allow children to play outdoors later and reduce seasonal depression. It would also prevent a slight increase in the car accidents that typically occur around the time change – particularly accidents involving deer.
They also point to studies suggesting a slight increase in heart attacks and strokes shortly after the daylight saving time change, and argue the measure could help businesses like golf courses attract more customers into the evening.
Critics, including the National Association of Convenience Stores, say many children will be forced to go to school in the dark during winter because the measure would delay sunrise by an hour in some places.
Mexico turned the clocks back one last time on Sunday after passing a law to end Daylight Saving Time. However, some northern cities will continue to practice DST next spring, likely due to their ties to US cities across the border.
The move, long sought by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was based on voter support along with negligible energy savings and negative health impacts from the DST, officials said.
The White House declined to say earlier this year whether Biden supports permanent daylight saving time.
Since 2015, about 30 states have introduced or passed legislation to end the twice-yearly clock changeover, with some states proposing to only do so if neighboring states do the same.
The bill would allow Arizona and Hawaii, which do not observe daylight saving time, to remain on standard time, as would American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.