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The Senate passed a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. Is that good?

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

You know, these days, the Senate is almost never united about anything, unless, of course, you are talking about changing clocks.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

MARCO RUBIO: Just this past weekend, we all went through that biannual ritual of changing the clock back and forth and the disruption that comes with it.

ED MARKEY: This past Sunday, Americans had to once again change their clocks.

PATTY MURRAY: And if the House follows the lead of the United States Senate, we can make it so no one anywhere has to change their clocks by making daylight saving time permanent.

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Patty Murray and the rest of their colleagues passed the Sunshine Protection Act yesterday by unanimous consent. It would make daylight saving time permanent and eliminate the clear and present danger of changing clocks for Americans everywhere.

CHANG: Great, you might be thinking, who doesn't want extra daylight hours after work? Well, Michael O'Malley, for one.

MICHAEL O'MALLEY: Yeah, I'm sort of a crank on the subject.

CHANG: O'Malley is a history professor at George Mason University and the author of "Keeping Watch: A History Of American Time."

O'MALLEY: One of the things that's always struck me about daylight saving is that it's felt by people as if they're experiencing a return to nature because you're outside in the park, you know, after work and it feels good. But what it really indicates is that we're completely hypnotized by the clock.

SUMMERS: O'Malley says businesses used to adjust their operating hours by the amount of available daylight. But then came World War I. Daylight saving time was marketed as saving on energy.

CHANG: But critics say daylight saving time actually increases fuel consumption. People got in their cars to use that extra hour of sun.

O'MALLEY: That was always pretty much nonsense. The real impetus for it then and now was businesses that stood to benefit from daylight saving.

CHANG: That is, businesses get more people shopping during that late daylight hour and have often lobbied for daylight saving time, even during World War I.

SUMMERS: The last time the U.S. tried year-round daylight saving was in 1974.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tomorrow morning, or earlier if you want to break up the party, you should set your clocks ahead one hour as most of the mainland United States goes on daylight savings time until October 1975.

SUMMERS: Again, Michael O'Malley.

O'MALLEY: There were objections almost right away, particularly from parents who were sending their kids out to the school bus in darkness.

SUMMERS: Within the year, permanent daylight saving time was scrapped.

CHANG: And now this current version of forever daylight saving isn't a done deal yet. The bill passed by the Senate still has to get through the House before it can be signed into law by President Biden.

SUMMERS: Even then, it would not go into effect until next year. So we still have at least one more glorious fall day when we get an extra hour of sleep. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.