It looks like Congress is about to turn up the pressure on the auto industry another notch. The Senate Commerce Committee has put a bill that would require AM radio to be equipped in vehicle dashboards on its to-do list before the Senate breaks for its August recess. The bill will be among those that comes up for a vote when the Committee meets today, July 27.
The proposed AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act (S. 1669) would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a rule that requires automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without a separate or additional payment, fee, or surcharge. The Government Accountability Office would also be required to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for alerting the public to emergencies.
Since the bill was introduced in May, it has gathered the support of 23 cosponsors in the Senate, nearly evenly divided from both parties. A similar bill introduced in the House (H.R. 3413) has also seen its support grow, with 130 lawmakers in favor of the legislation.
Ranking Republican Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is a cosponsor of the bill, has been among its most vocal advocates on Capitol Hill. He told Communications Daily that he expects “a big bipartisan vote” in favor of the proposal when it comes up in Committee today. And while the Committee is advancing the bill to a vote even without holding a full-fledged hearing, Communications Daily says that Cruz staffers have been briefing congressional aides on the issue during the past two months.
As news has spread that some carmakers have already removed AM, and others are planning to do so, AM radio has received plenty of praise from lawmakers The hurdle for some has been the idea of mandating radio technology to be included in car and truck dashboards. But supporters have said that broadcast radio remains just as vital safety equipment as federally-required seatbelts, since they ensure drivers have access to emergency alerts.