Trump raises hopes for permanent daylight saving time

Trump raises hopes for permanent daylight saving time
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE is giving the nod to legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent, providing a boost to lawmakers who have pushed to make evening sunlight a year-round phenomenon.

Experts say the issue is so fraught with controversy and moving parts that despite bipartisan interest in resolving it, most policy suggestions end up stalled. But Trump's input may mark a turning point.

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Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate GOP lawmaker on Iran: Congress should vote on 'what's worthy of spilling American blood and what isn't' The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider? MORE (R-Fla.), along with Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Rep. Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.), reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act last week, which would make daylight saving time permanent nationwide. Rubio introduced the measure last year to no avail.

“The time to stop changing our clocks twice a year is now,” Rubio said in a statement to The Hill. “This legislation is a non-partisan issue, however, it has bipartisan support, and I thank President Trump for offering his support as well."

Trump tweeted about the topic on Monday, the day after clocks moved forward, saying that "making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!"

"I am hopeful that the rest of my colleagues will see the daylight and get behind the Sunshine Protection Act," Rubio added.

Talk of year-round daylight saving time has become something of a biannual tradition as Americans adjust their clocks once in the spring and once in the fall, as mandated by the Uniform Time Act. 

Federal lawmakers have agreed to extend the duration of daylight saving time in the past, and the current iteration lasts from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November.

But politicians at the state and federal level have continued to press to make the change permanent, citing potential boosts to the economy and energy savings, with the issue defying party lines. Skeptics of the move have highlighted unconsidered  consequences and potential chaos across state laws should such a measure go into effect.

"Part of it is just the fantastic confusion that this bred by losing or gaining an hour by turning your clock backward or forward. Confusion tends to breed controversy," said Michael Downing, author of "Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time."

Rubio and other proponents of year-round daylight saving time argue that it would present a plethora of benefits. In addition to eliminating the need to change clocks, additional sunlight at the end of the day would provide more time for children to exercise, reduce electricity usage and deliver an economic boost, they say.

A senior aide for Rubio said the senator is continuing to educate his Senate colleagues in search of support on the bill, but that a companion version in the House has bipartisan backing.

"Things are moving in the right direction," the aide said, citing Trump's newly stated support.

Those who have studied the issue cautioned that the positives of permanent daylight saving time come with a number of pitfalls.

"The big negative would be very dark mornings all over the country," said David Prerau, author of "Seize the Daylight."

"Many of our major cities would have daylight hours starting after 8:30 a.m.," he said. "So many, many people would have to get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, send their kids to school in the dark, so that would be a big negative effect."

Multiple states have undertaken efforts to make daylight saving time permanent. Florida lawmakers last year passed such an initiative, and it was signed by Scott.

A similar bill passed the Washington state House last week, and California voters passed a proposition last November to opt into permanent daylight saving time with the approval of state and federal lawmakers.

Under federal law, states are only empowered to opt out of daylight saving time and remain on standard time year round. Two states, Hawaii and Arizona, do so.

Downing and Prerau agreed that discussion surrounding making daylight saving time permanent essentially reignites every year with the changing of the clocks in the spring. The two cited separate historical precedents to forecast how the debate might proceed.

Downing suggested that the country may eventually observe a full year of daylight saving time because federal lawmakers have steadily expanded it over the last several decades.

"Eventually we’ll get to full year because history tells us every 20 years we’ve been getting an extra month," he said.

Prerau pointed to the Nixon administration's implementation of permanent daylight saving time during the energy crisis in 1974, which eventually wore thin on the American people. 

"I think if they look into it they’ll find some of these problems," he said. "I think the current system is pretty good."