Even in a bitterly partisan U.S. Senate, Republicans and Democrats have found something to agree on. Lawmakers unanimously approved a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent.
If the bill is also passed by the House and signed by President Biden, Americans would no longer have to set their clocks forward in the spring and set them back in the fall.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a sponsor of the bill, noted the bipartisan nature of the support for the measure to make America’s time consistent.
“Just this past weekend, we all went through that biannual ritual of changing the clock back and forth, and the disruption that comes with it,” Rubio said. “And one has to ask themselves after a while, ‘Why do we keep doing it? Why are we doing this?’”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), was the lead Democratic sponsor of the legislation. He said the measure is highly popular in his state.
“Pretty much everybody in Rhode Island experiences the same thing on that unhappy day in early November … when suddenly an hour of your day, an hour of your daylight disappears and dusk comes an hour earlier,” he said.
First promoted to save candles
According to some accounts, the first proposal for Daylight Saving Time goes all the way back to 1784 when it was argued that aligning Americans’ awake hours to daylight would save on candle usage. In the 20th century, the argument was updated to advocate the conservation of electricity. Daylight Saving Time began in the U.S. in 1918.
While many nations other than the U.S. observe Daylight Saving Time, others do not. Those that do sometimes have different start dates than other nations.
Adding to the confusion, some states and territories do not observe Daylight Saving Time, remaining on Standard Time. The areas of the U.S. that do not go on Daylight Saving Time are Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.
In a global economy, lawmakers argue that Daylight Saving Time can lead to confusion and disrupt timekeeping, travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, and sleep patterns. Rubio says he believes most Americans are ready for some consistency.
“So we're doing this back-and-forth clock changing for about 16 weeks of Standard Time a year,” Rubio said. “I think the majority of the American people's preference is just to stop the back and forth changing. But beyond that, I think their preference is — certainly at least based on today's vote, and what we've heard — is to make Daylight Saving Time permanent.”
The measure now heads to the House of Representatives. Once House Speaker Nancy Pelosi schedules a vote, the unanimous vote in the Senate suggests easy passage.