The US Congress is divided over permanent daylight saving time
WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – A U.S. congressional effort to make daylight saving time permanent, which the Senate unanimously passed earlier this year, has stalled in the House of Representatives, with a key lawmaker telling Reuters they could not reach a consensus.
In March, the Senate voted to stop the twice-yearly clock change next year, which supporters say will lead to brighter afternoons and more economic activity.
U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over the issue, said in a statement to Reuters that the House was still trying to figure out how to proceed.
“We haven’t been able to get consensus in the House on this yet. There’s a wide range of opinions on whether to keep the status quo, go to permanent time, and if so, what time it should be,” Pallone, a Democrat, said, adding that opinions are divided by region, not by party.
Legislative aides told Reuters they did not expect Congress to reach a deal before the end of the year. Supporters in the Senate are expected to reintroduce the bill next year if it is not approved 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 savings time was used during World War II and re-adopted in 1973 in an attempt to reduce energy consumption due to the oil embargo and abolished a year later.
“We don’t want to make a hasty change 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.
On Sunday, November 6 at 2 a.m. EDT (06:00 GMT), the United States will resume standard time.
Pallone has previously said he supports ending clock switching, but has not decided whether to support daylight saving or standard time as a permanent choice.
Supporters also argue that, if passed, the so-called sun protection law would allow children to play outdoors later and reduce seasonal depression. It would also prevent a slight increase in traffic accidents that usually occur around the change in weather – especially collisions with deer.
They also point to studies showing a small increase in heart attacks and strokes shortly after the time change and argue that the measure could help businesses such as golf courses attract more customers in the evening.
Critics, including the National Convenience Store Association, say it will force many children to walk to school in the dark during the winter, as the measure would delay sunrise by an hour in some places.
Mexico turned back the clocks for the last time on Sunday after passing a law ending daylight saving time last week. Some northern cities will continue to change weather in the spring, however, likely because of their connections to American cities across the border.
The move, long sought by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was based on voter support as well as the negligible energy savings and negative health effects of the weather change, officials said.
The White House earlier this year declined to say whether Biden supports making daylight saving time permanent.
As of 2015, about 30 states have introduced or passed laws to end biennial clock changes, with some states proposing to do so only 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 well as American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; additional reporting from Kylie Madry in Mexico City; editing by Diane Craft
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