Many Americans dread the changing of our clocks twice a year, but the ritual could become a thing of the past if the U.S. adopts permanent daylight saving time.
Daylight saving time became official in the U.S. on March 19, 1918, when the Standard Time Act was signed into law. It allowed for additional daylight hours to help save energy costs during World War I, though studies have since found it does little to save electricity, and established the country’s five time zones.
More recently, lawmakers have introduced legislation to make daylight saving time permanent throughout the country, citing health and economic benefits. Following the recent decision from the U.S. Senate, several VERIFY viewers have emailed and texted the team to ask if daylight saving time is now permanent in the U.S.
Is daylight saving time now permanent in the United States?
No, daylight saving time isn’t permanent yet in the United States. It could become permanent if the House passes legislation approved by the Senate and President Joe Biden signs it into law.
WHAT WE FOUND
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Sunshine Protection Act, which was reintroduced in 2021 by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), on March 15. Rubio previously introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to the Senate in 2019.
The legislation would make daylight saving time the permanent standard time throughout the country starting in 2023. That means we wouldn’t change our clocks, or “fall back,” in November and would have a full year of daylight saving time instead of only eight months.
But the bill has some hoops to jump through before daylight saving time is the norm for everyone. It still needs to pass the U.S. House before President Joe Biden could sign it into law, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who introduced legislation to make daylight saving time permanent in the House, said on Twitter that he would send a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to “immediately bring our bill, the Sunshine Protection Act, to the House floor.” It’s unclear when that could happen.
Other state lawmakers have also supported permanent daylight saving time. Florida’s legislature enacted year-round daylight saving time in 2018, and more than a dozen other U.S. states have also passed laws, resolutions or voter initiatives aimed at doing the same.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) explains on its website that federal law doesn’t allow full-time daylight saving time, so Congress needs to act before states can adopt changes. Federal law does allow states to exempt themselves from daylight saving time upon action by the state legislature.
Hawaii and Arizona – except for the Navajo Nation – are the only U.S. states that don’t observe daylight saving time. The territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t observe daylight saving time either.
Rubio said states and territories that currently remain on year-round standard time would continue to do so if the Sunshine Protection Act is passed into law.
The U.S. hasn’t always had set rules for daylight saving time. When World War II ended in 1945, a law instating national daylight saving time was repealed so states could establish their own standard time, according to the Department of Defense (DOD).
The lack of rules for daylight saving time led to “confusion for the transportation and broadcast industries,” the DOD said, leading Congress to pass the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The act established a national standard time and daylight saving time from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.
The dates to “spring” forward and “fall” back have since been changed. In 2005, former President George W. Bush implemented the current policy that extended daylight saving time by several weeks. Daylight saving time currently begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
The U.S. has also tried permanent daylight saving time before. In December 1973, former President Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act, which placed the country on daylight saving time beginning Jan. 6, 1974. Nixon made the move in response to what he called an “energy crisis” in the country.
Dark mornings began to wear on people and year-round daylight saving time was scrapped in the fall of 1974, with clocks falling back on Oct. 27, the San Jose Mercury News reported in 2016.