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Senators Launch Latest Salvo in Forever War Over Daylight Saving Time

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Illustration for article titled Senators Launch Latest Salvo in Forever War Over Daylight Saving Time

Photo: Loïc Venance/AFP (Getty Images)

The Senate might just finally do away with Daylight Saving Time (DST) clock shifts, ridding America of the twice-a-year impositions on everyone’s sanity and standardizing time at the moment after the clock jumps forward on March 14 this year. Of course, similar proposals have regularly flamed out over the years, so take that with a grain of salt.

The annual transitions between DST and Standard Time manage to be both simple and a headache-inducing confusion. At 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, clocks roll forward an hour, and at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in November, clocks roll back an hour. That means from March to November, Americans get an extra hour of sunlight or so during the evening, and from November to March, Americans get an extra hour or so of sunlight in the early hours of the morning.

Despite complicated and semi-mythical rationales for DST—it’s commonly cited as an invention of Benjamin Franklin, who actually just wrote a joke article suggesting taxing window shades and firing cannons in the streets of Paris to wake the French up earlier—it was actually originally implemented nationwide in 1918 as part of an effort to conserve fuel and stick it to the Kaiser and the Imperial German Army during World War I, something that is now completely irrelevant. The U.S. flipped back and forth before the 1966 Uniform Time Act made DST an annual, permanent fixture.

These days, the non-DST parts of the year means Americans on a traditional 9-5 schedule enjoy less sunlight by the time they leave work during the winter and a rude transition in March. According to CBS News, Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ron Wyden have advanced a bipartisan proposal titled the Sunshine Protection Act with their Republican counterparts Roy Blunt, Cindy Hyde-Smith, James Lankford, Marco Rubio, and Rick Scott, to just make DST permanent.

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