Senate unexpectedly approves legislation to make daylight-saving time permanent

Senate unexpectedly approves legislation to make daylight-saving time permanent
The U.S Capitol is visible at sunset as a man plays fetch with a dog in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • The Senate passed a bill to move the US to permanent daylight-saving time.
  • Since 1966, most Americans have been used to "springing forward" to begin DST in March.

The walls might be closing on the US's twice-a-year ritual of changing clocks.

The US Senate unexpectedly passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill to move the US to permanent daylight-saving time, on Tuesday afternoon, two days after most of the country "sprang forward" to begin daylight-saving time.

The chamber quickly approved the bill through unanimous consent, which allows legislation to pass the Senate with a simple voice vote if no senator objects.

The legislation heads next to the House of Representatives, and if it's passed by that chamber, it'll go to President Joe Biden's desk. Axios reported on Tuesday that GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida was leading the effort to secure swift passage of the measure through the lower chamber.

"The good news is that we can get this passed. We don't have to keep doing this stupidity anymore. Why we would enshrine this in our laws and keep it for so long is beyond me," Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, one of the bill's sponsors, said on the Senate floor. "Hopefully, this is the year that this gets done. And pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come."


Rubio added that an amendment to the bill would delay its implementation until November 2023 to give the airline and travel industries, which operate on strict timetables, sufficient leeway to prepare for the change.

The Florida Republican said he hadn't spoken to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the legislation. "I don't know what the House is gonna do yet," Rubio told Insider.

"The bill just passed this afternoon and we are reviewing it closely," said Pelosi spokesperson Carlos Paz Jr. It was not immediately clear whether the House would put it up for a vote.

There were some cheers for the bill in both chambers. "It's a beautiful thing," Sen. Jon Tester of Montana told reporters, flashing a thumbs-up to demonstrate his approval.

A committee hearing had recently debated whether the US should keep changing its clocks twice a year. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, chair of the House Energy and Commerce panel, lauded the legislation's passage. "I'm pleased to see momentum building after our hearing last week on the impacts of springing forward and falling back," Pallone wrote on Twitter.


Various thinkers proposed versions of daylight saving in the 19th and early 20th century, and the US and several European countries introduced daylight-saving time as a wartime energy-conservation measure during World War I.

After the US repealed national daylight saving in 1919, some states kept observing daylight-saving time, while others did not for decades, which created a confusing patchwork of time zones across the country.

The Uniform Time Act, passed by Congress in 1966, set daylight-saving time to begin and end at the same time each year throughout the country.

The US did briefly try observing permanent daylight-saving time in the early 1970s. But the experiment, which began in December 1973 in the last months of President Richard Nixon's presidency, ended less than a year later after numerous safety complaints and concerns about children having to walk to school in the dark.

Since Congress last amended the Uniform Time Act in 2005, Americans "spring forward" to begin daylight-saving time at 3 a.m. ET on the second Sunday in March, trading an hour of sleep for more daylight at the end of the day, and "fall back" to go to standard time at 2 a.m. ET on the first Sunday in November.


In addition to the hassle of changing clocks twice a year, the energy-saving benefits of daylight-saving time are negligible to none.

Some studies have additionally linked the loss of an hour of sleep that comes with the beginning of daylight-saving time to negative health effects, such as increases in heart attacks, car accidents, and workplace injuries.

Some states that receive a lot of sunlight, like Hawaii and most of Arizona, don't recognize daylight-saving time at all because they prefer to have cooler temperatures and more shade at the end of the day, not more light.

The bill would still allow those states to be exempt from permanent daylight-saving time and stay on permanent standard time.