The quirky process the Senate used to pass permanent Daylight Savings

Person adjusting clock.
(Image credit: baona/iStock.)

Were you among those perhaps wondering how the Senate, a legislative body that so often fails to get anything done, managed to on Tuesday swiftly and unanimously pass a bill that would make Daylight Savings Time permanent? Well, in news that unfortunately makes a lot of sense, apparently even the senators were shocked at their own success.

Turns out, BuzzFeed News reports, the entire beleaguered Senate legislative process can be bypassed with something known as "unanimous consent," which skips the debate and votes and immediately moves to the passage of the bill so long as no one objects. If everyone's in favor, the bill automatically passes; but if just one senator says no, it's blocked.

Senators ask for unanimous consent all the time, "but it's usually just for show," per BuzzFeed News. Lawmakers typically first notify their counterparts of their plan, allowing others the chance to place what's called a "hold" on the bill to signal their opposition. Once there's at least one hold, there's largely no point in bringing the bill to the floor, Buzzfeed notes.

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But when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) brought the Sunshine Protection Act to the floor under a unanimous consent request, some senators seemingly weren't told by their staff (who may have fielded the message) what was happening ... meaning they weren't even able to object.

"It's literally an issue my staff and I had never discussed, and they made an assumption that I don't really care about daylight saving time," said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). "And I don't know if I do!"

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who's apparently vehemently opposed to permanent daylight savings, was also not made aware and did not get to object, per BuzzFeed News.

So ultimately, it appears the Senate's efficient afternoon may have just been the result of poor communication. Whoops!

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Brigid Kennedy

Brigid is a staff writer at The Week and a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her passions include improv comedy, David Fincher films, and breakfast food. She lives in New York.