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Bipartisan Support for AM Radio Legislation Grows

A whopping 184 members of Congress have cosponsored the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act

It’s a rare occasion when lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum can agree on any given legislation, but that’s just the case for the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. The bill, first introduced in May, continues to garner strong, bipartisan support, with one-third of all senators and members of the House of Representatives cosponsoring the legislation.

The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act would give the government power to mandate that automakers maintain AM service in their future car models. If adopted, the act would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to implement new rules requiring car manufacturers to keep the service without any additional charges.

The bill also would direct the Government Accountability Office to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for alerting the public to emergencies.

As of Sept. 7, 150 out of the 435 total members that comprise the U.S. House of Representatives have cosponsored the measure. Of those House representatives, 72 are Democrats and 78 are Republicans.

Additionally, 34 out of 100 senators support the bill. Of those members of Congress, 16 are Democrats and 18 are Republicans.

While 184 members of Congress publicly standing behind the issue feels impressive, it doesn’t assure passage, at least not yet. However, NAB’s Curtis LeGeyt sounded optimistic.

“The incredible bipartisan support the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act has garnered in just a short time is a testament to the integral role AM broadcasting plays in informing, entertaining and connecting Americans across the country,” said NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt in a press release.

“America’s broadcasters thank the members of Congress that are standing with their local AM station listeners and working to preserve radio’s pivotal place in the car dashboard,” said LeGeyt.

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In late July, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation officially passed the AM For Every Vehicle Act on to the Senate floor. The executive session was broadcast live and facilitated by committee chair Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat representing Washington state.

During the committee meeting, the ranking Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, voiced his support, saying in a statement that “AM radio is vital to free expression and viewpoint diversity” and “allows Americans, especially conservatives, to communicate their points of view and help free speech flourish.”

The legislation was passed via a voice vote, and, while not every senator’s vote was recorded, the National Association of Broadcasters said Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, asked that he be recorded as a ‘no.’” Michigan is home to the U.S. automaker industry, which opposes the AM For Every Vehicle Act. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which has a base in Michigan, recently said, “Congress has never mandated radio features in vehicles ever before.” It called the bill unnecessary.

A bipartisan coalition of policymakers, including Sens. Ed Markey (D–Mass.), Ted Cruz (R–TX), Tammy Baldwin (D–Wis.), Deb Fischer (R–Neb.), Ben Ray Luján (D–N.M.), J.D. Vance (R–OH), Bob Menendez (D–N.J.) and Roger Wicker (R–Miss.), first introduced the bill in the Senate.

[Read more stories about the future of AM radio in cars]