WASHINGTON ― In a surprise move on Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation making daylight saving time, which began this week, permanent for the entire United States.
The bill, titled the “Sunshine Protection Act,” was co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). It passed unanimously.
Rubio cited increased heart attacks and car accidents during standard time as reasons the country should do away with clock-switching, in addition to people enjoying more sunlight at the end of the day for things like sports.
“Pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come,” Rubio said Tuesday as he asked the Senate to pass the bill.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who was presiding over the chamber at the time, whispered, “Yes,” and pumped her fists after no senator objected. Arizona does not observe daylight saving time.
The House would still need to approve the legislation, and President Joe Biden would need to sign it in order for it to become law, however.
“The clock is ticking to get the job done so we never have to switch our clocks again,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), another supporter of the bill, said in a statement. “So I urge my colleagues in the House to act as swiftly as the Senate. Let’s get this bill on President Biden’s desk and deliver more sunshine to Americans across the country.”
Clock-switching wouldn’t become a thing of the past right away. The bill delays the implementation of permanent daylight saving time until 2023 to allow airlines and other companies to have time to adjust their schedules.
The U.S. tried permanent daylight saving time in the 1970s as a result of rising energy prices, but Congress reversed it after only one year due to complaints about no sunlight in some parts of the country until 9 a.m. Part of the argument was that early-morning darkness was dangerous for children going to school, The Washingtonian noted.
Asked about such concerns, Rubio suggested that schools that would experience early-morning darkness could adjust their starting times in the winter.
“We start school in this country at the worst possible time for adolescents,” he told reporters.