The United States Senate has advanced a bill to adopt permanent Daylight Saving Time, ending what lawmakers described as the “pointless” procedure of changing the clocks twice a year.
The plan advanced by Florida Republican Marco Rubio, known as the Sunshine Protection Act, passed through the chamber with rare bipartisan support.
The bill, which would abolish the changing of clocks from November 2023, must still clear the House of Representatives and be signed into law by President Joe Biden, who has not said whether he would support the change.
The passage through the Senate on Tuesday came two days after the US entered Daylight Saving Time, with clocks across the nation moving forward an hour on Sunday evening.
Intended to create later evenings in summer and brighter mornings in winter, critics have long maintained that the twice-annual changing of clocks is a relic of the past that causes disruption to sleep and work schedules.
Mr Rubio said: “I know this is not the most important issue confronting America but it is one of those issues that there is a lot of agreement. If we can get this passed, we don’t have to do this stupidity anymore.
“Pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come.”
“It has real repercussions on our economy and our daily lives,” said Senator Ed Markey, another leading sponsor.
Polling suggests that 71 per cent of Americans prefer to no longer switch their clocks twice a year.
Representative Frank Pallone, chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, is among the supporters of the change, arguing that the loss of sleep from changing clocks “seems to impact us for days afterwards” and “can cause havoc on the sleeping patterns of our kids and our pets.”
Mr Pallone backs ending the clock switching but has not decided whether the US should permanently adopt summer or winter-time.
The European Parliament similarly voted to scrap daylight saving in 2019, but plans stalled over a number of disagreements – not least over whether summer or winter time should become the new standard.
Among other political wrangles, Ireland has raised fears of a “time border” with Northern Ireland if a post-Brexit UK fails to mirror the EU’s decision.
The UK is set to enter British Summer Time on 27 March, moving clocks forward an hour, before moving them back again on 30 October.
While campaigners in Britain have advocated for the change, the dispute over whether to adopt British Summer Time or Greenwich Mean Time year-round has proved similarly thorny.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “Every autumn when the clocks go back and sunset suddenly occurs earlier in the day, there are a host of negative impacts on the way we live our lives. The number of road casualties rises, with the effects being worse for the most vulnerable road users like children, older people, cyclists and motorcyclists.
“Research by the RAC Foundation confirms that road traffic collisions increase by 19 per cent in the fortnight after putting the clocks back one hour from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and they reduce by 11 per cent when we put the clocks forward onto BST.”
However, adopting British Summer Time year-round could prove controversial in Scotland, where the shift would mean the sun might not rise until 9am in the winter months.