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.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics, US Senate, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. There was a reason my Spider-sense was tingling when this story came out. I have a hard time seeing the House picking this one up.

    ReplyReply
    5
  2. Tony W says:

    A stopped clock is correct twice a day – whether it is on DST or not.

    The right thing happened, even if it was by accident.

    ReplyReply
    2
  3. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tony W:..A stopped clock is correct twice a day-…

    If the clock is digital and it is stopped because it has lost it’s source of electricity there is no display and the clock is never correct.
    Much like the United States Senate on this matter.

    ReplyReply
    3
  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. Indeed? More like a junior high school student government.

    Fools! Knaves!

    ReplyReply
    2
  5. Michael Cain says:

    Reading the Senate journal, it appears they may have also skimmed over whether there was actually a quorum present in the chamber.

    ReplyReply
  6. Kathy says:

    Let’s see Sinema do the same for voting rights.

    ReplyReply
    2
  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: There’s a limited number of such stunts available any given year. You can’t waste them on stuff like voting rights. They need to be reserved for trivialities. It’s somewhere in the Senate rules, I think.

    ReplyReply
  8. Raoul says:

    Rubio and and Sienna should be ashamed and I’m embarrassed for the U.S.

    ReplyReply
  9. Gavin says:

    I like hearing that Sinema pumped her fist a couple times.
    For her next trick, let’s see some 3 goggles.
    It’s not like someone’s going to confuse her with a professional worthy of respect.

    ReplyReply
    1
  10. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have a hard time seeing the House picking this one up.

    Except the “just leave the damned clocks alone” position is incredibly popular, so I don’t see them stopping it once it passes the Senate and starts being praised in the media. There might be a debate on which way to leave the clocks.

    ReplyReply
  11. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Good. then have the House hold hearings, especially with sleep and physiology specialists, and then conclude the clocks ought to be set permanently to Standard Time.

    ReplyReply
    1
  12. Richard Gardner says:

    Sen Patty Murray (WA – 3rd most senior Dem Senator) is all over the local airwaves (NPR) taking credit for it – including a nonsense statement on how the whole West Coast has the same low number of hours of daylight in the Winter (vice the northern states) so this is good. Senate leadership was involved.

    ReplyReply
  13. Ken_L says:

    Now Senator Senigma has two bipartisan bills she can brag about.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*