Americans are closer to never having to “fall back” and change their clocks to plunge into darker afternoons in the fall and winter. The often bitterly divided U.S. Senate unanimously approved a proposal on Tuesday to make daylight saving time permanent. The measure still needs to be passed by the House and signed by President Joe Biden to become law.
If passed, it would also mean that people will lose an hour of daylight in the mornings between November and February.
The Sunshine Protection Act, co-sponsored by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, wouldn’t be implemented until November 2023, due to requests from the transportation industry which has already scheduled for the existing time and say they need more time to accommodate a permanent adjustment.
Rubio said on the Senate floor, “I’m hoping that after today, this will go over to the House of Representatives, and they’ll act quickly on it. 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.“
Supporters point to a raft of benefits, saying the change would let children to play outdoors later, maintain sleeping patterns- especially for children, and could reduce seasonal depression.
The House Energy and Commerce committee held a hearing on the issue last week, where Representative Frank Pallone, the committee’s chairman, cited a 2019 poll that found 71% of Americans prefer to not switch their clocks twice a year.
As it stands under the current law, on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year on Dec. 21, the sun rises in D.C. at 7:15 a.m. If the Sunshine Protection Act becomes law, the sun won’t rise over the District until 8:15 a.m. However, the sun will not set until 5:31 p.m., instead of 4:31 as it does now.
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is the lead Democratic sponsor of the legislation. He said this change would be welcomed, explaining, “It does darken our lives in a very literal sense and by the time you get from November when we fall back to the shortest day of the year… So let’s make it 5:15,” he said. “Granted, there are people who are up between 6:30 and 7:30 in the morning who will then miss their hour of daylight but there are a lot fewer people up and about between 6:30 and 7:30 in the morning than there are between 4:15 and 5:15 in the afternoon.”