The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body
A hundred Senators actually didn't mean to change our clocks.
Remember earlier this week when the Senate unanimously agreed to make Daylight Saving Time permanent? Well, Dana Milbank has the rest of the story:
Even in the best of times, the place never runs like clockwork. This week, things got so bad that the chamber acted to move the hands of time — by accident.
The Senate approved legislation making daylight saving time year-round. There were no hearings, no discussion, no debate, and no vote. It just happened, because nobody objected — in large part because many senators didn’t even know it was happening.
It took just 14 seconds to approve an order moving Americans’ clocks an hour ahead, permanently. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) rose, requested that S. 623 be “discharged” from the Senate Commerce Committee, which hadn’t approved it, then said: “I ask unanimous consent that the Rubio substitute amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.”
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the presiding officer, was complicit in the scheme. She quickly declared “without objection, so ordered” and then, in her latest breach of decorum, stage-whispered “yes!” into the microphone and pumped two celebratory fists.
Rubio and Sinema had pulled a fast one. A proposal with only 18 co-sponsors cleared the body in a New York minute. Neither the Democratic whip nor the Republican whip in the Senate knew it was happening. And the Senate has no way to claw back the bill, so it goes to the House — which hopefully will be a bit more deliberative before messing with Father Time.
While this comes across as high-stakes flim-flammery, Graham’s people did apparently attempt to get the word out.
Reporting by The Post’s Paul Kane and BuzzFeed’s Paul McLeod indicates Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), top Republican on the Commerce Committee, had planned to object to the “unanimous consent” request to pass what he calls “bad legislation,” but decided not to at the last minute because he’s focused on more pressing matters, such as the war in Ukraine.
In other words, it’s Vladimir Putin’s fault that our clocks may change.
Staff for other senators had been informed by Rubio’s office about the time-change hustle, but word didn’t reach many of the members — perhaps because people wrongly thought Wicker would handle the objection. It was a timely reminder: You snooze, you lose.
Regardless, as Milbank notes, this is no way to run a railroad.
It’s certainly bad for the legislative process. Things are so awful these days that lawmakers celebrate when they achieve even routine stuff, such as keeping the government running. If senators start to think they can sneak significant bills to passage without a vote, the small store of trust that remains in the chamber would quickly dissipate.
For a body whose rules are designed to make it next to impossible to pass legislation with marginal support, it’s simply bizarre to me that there wasn’t a mechanism in place to prevent this.