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The Senate gave itself a pat on the back earlier this week when senators voted without objection to make daylight saving time permanent.
“The good news is that if we can get this passed, we won’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said of his legislation to end the need to change the clocks every year in March. and November.
However, America has tried this before – and the country hated it. In the early 1970s, America was facing an energy crisis, so the government tried an experiment. Congress passed legislation to make DST permanent year-round, but only for two years. The idea was that more sunlight in the evening would reduce the country’s energy consumption.
It didn’t work, said David Prerau, one of the country’s top experts on the matter.
“He became very unpopular very quickly,” he told NPR.
Americans don’t like to change their clocks, but they still didn’t like going to work and school in the dark for months on end – the price the nation had to pay for more sunlight on winter evenings.
It also did not reduce power consumption as expected. In 1974, Congress repealed the law – even before the two-year experiment was complete. Almost 50 years later, Congress is back.
“Today the Senate finally achieved something Americans want across the country: never have to change the clock again,” enthused Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on the floor of the Senate.
“We know daylight saving time helps turn the corners of people’s mouths up into a smile!” said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass.
Advocates of permanent DST include Steve Calandrillo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law. He testified before a recent House subcommittee that he would do everything from saving lives to reducing crime, conserving energy, improving health and stimulating the economy. His motto: “Darkness kills, the sun saves”.
Dr. Beth Malow, a neurologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, also testified. She agreed it would be healthier for Americans to stop changing their clocks, but she thinks permanent standard time is a better bet.
“It’s called Standard Time because ST aligns with our natural, biological rhythms,” she said. Permanent standard time with sunnier mornings and darker evenings would be healthier, especially for frontline workers and students who wake up early.
The best response, according to Prerau, is to do nothing at all. The current system, which began in 2007, of starting daylight saving time in March and ending it in November, is the product of decades of study and compromise.
“I personally think the current system we have, with some flaws, is the best system we could have,” he said.
The House has no immediate plans to pass the bill passed by the Senate, but it has bipartisan support. The Biden administration has yet to take a position on this. “I don’t have a specific position from the administration at this time,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
The history lesson here for Congress: Be careful what you vote for.