(NEXSTAR) – For residents of all but two states, this weekend will mark the end of daylight saving time when clocks “fall back” at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday.
The annual ritual means catching up on an extra hour of sleep, but some members of Congress would prefer to stay on daylight saving time year-round, something which has been tried unsuccessfully in the past.
In March, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act which is designed to do just that. Despite a rare show of support from senators of both political parties, the measure has been stalled after it was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Both Rubio and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have been outspoken in support of doing away with clock changes, which happen twice a year except in most of Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Changing the clock twice a year is outdated and unnecessary,” Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said in 2022 after a previous iteration of the Sunshine Protection Act passed the Senate before running into a brick wall in the House.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Americans want more sunshine and less depression — people in this country, all the way from Seattle to Miami, want the Sunshine Protection Act,” Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray added at the time.
Others who remember the lessons of the 1970s, however, may not be quite as excited about the thought of permanent daylight saving time.
Daylight saving time in 1974
In a move to combat a national energy crisis in the United States, then-President Richard Nixon signed an emergency daylight saving time bill into law in late 1973 in an attempt to cut demand by extending daylight hours.
Public opinion of year-round daylight saving time was high leading up to the bill’s passage, The New York Times reported. The nearly 80% approval rate in December, 1973 would fall sharply in the months after, however.
Parents became worried about traffic accidents and the safety of their children, who were forced to go to school under winter darkness. By February, approval was at just 42 percent, according to the Times.
In October 1974, President Gerald Ford signed a bill returning the nation to standard time for four months of the year.
Nixon wasn’t the only president to try out daylight saving time, however. During World War I President Woodrow Wilson, following the lead of German leader Kaiser Wilhelm, instituted the time change. The bill was widely hated by farmers and Congress ultimately scuttled it after the war, over Wilson’s veto.
President Roosevelt also instituted daylight saving time during World War II, which he called “war time,” which was repealed in 1945 after several states and cities reinstituted standard time on their own.
Will daylight saving time become permanent?
The idea of daylight saving time, so appealing during after-work activities on the golf course or meeting up with friends during the summer, has received broad support over the years. So is the nation ready to make this “permanent” change once again?
Proponents say the added evening daylight will also lead to a reduction in crime, a potential reduction in energy usage and diminished health risks associated with the time change.
Critics of the bill, however, say year-round daylight saving time will play havoc with people’s circadian rhythms.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) issued a statement applauding the push for a year-round time, but warned that daylight saving time is the wrong one.
The AASM added that “current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety.”
Horacio del Iglesia, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, told The Seattle Times that year-round daylight saving time “would be like Monday morning every day for the rest of your life.”
In 2022, AASM chided the Senate for allowing “neither a robust discussion nor a debate” before passing the bill, and called on the House to “take more time to assess the potential ramifications of establishing permanent daylight saving time before making such an important decision that will affect all Americans.”