WASHINGTON – You soon may be able to skip the semiannual switching of your clocks for daylight saving time.
The Senate Tuesday unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would permanently extend daylight saving time (DST) from eight months of the year to the full 12 months. The bill was first introduced in January 2021 and reintroduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and seven other bipartisan members of Congress last March.
Rubio on Tuesday targeted the “ritual of changing the clock back and forth, and the disruption that comes with it.”
“And one has to ask themselves after a while, ‘Why do we keep doing it? Why are we doing this?’” he said.
The bill would make daylight saving time permanent across the U.S. in 2023. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Florida, who introduced the House bill last year, told USA TODAY Tuesday he would send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, asking for immediate consideration of the bill.
“There are enormous health and economic benefits to making daylight saving time permanent,” Buchanan said. “Florida and 17 other states have already moved to adopt (DST) year-round but cannot do so without congressional approval. It’s time to end the antiquated practice of changing our clocks twice a year.”
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The move to end the time change follows public opinion. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted in October 2021 found only 25% of Americans said they preferred to switch back and forth between standard and daylight saving time.
However, 43% of survey respondents said they wanted to see standard time (the hours observed roughly for most of November into March) the time for the entire year. Meanwhile, 32% said they would prefer daylight saving time, which most of the U.S. switched to on Sunday at 2 a.m. local time, to be used all year.
Rubio said DST began in 1918 “as a practice that was supposed to save energy, and since then we’ve adjusted it.” Initially running for six months, DST now lasts eight months, “clearly showing you where people’s preference (is),” he said.
“I think the majority of the American people’s preference is just to stop the back and forth changing,” Rubio said. “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.”
“I’m hoping that after today, this will go over to the House of Representatives, and they’ll act quickly on it,” Rubio said. “I know this is not the most important issue confronting America, but it’s one of those issues where there’s a lot of agreement. I think a lot of people wonder why it took so long to get here.”
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Rubio brought the bill up under unanimous consent. No one objected, and it was adopted. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, who was serving as acting Senate president during the process, whispered an emphatic ‘Yes!” when no one objected.
Arizona does not recognize DST (except for Navajo reservations). There’s also no time change observed in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the GOP Senate whip, when asked about the DST bill’s passage, said he didn’t know it passed, and joked he must have missed it by an hour, but said, “I’m fine with that. People in South Dakota complain about that all the time”
Contributing: Dylan Bell and Ledge King, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press