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Support For AM In Auto Dashboards Hits 200 In The House.

The radio industry has achieved a symbolic milestone as the number of lawmakers in the U.S. House who back efforts to make AM radio mandatory in vehicles has reached 200. The list has grown by four this month even as the proposed AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act (H.R.3413) has yet to make much legislative progress in the House. That could prove critical if, as some in Washington believe, supporters try to attach the measure to a piece of must-pass legislation like a spending bill.

In the meantime, the latest cosponsors continue to reflect the bipartisan support that broadcasters are after. Two Republicans and two Democrats have added their names this month, including Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN), Kim Young (R-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Bradley Scott Schneider (D-IL).

NAB spokesman Alex Siciliano credits grassroots support for helping broadcasters gain so many cosponsors on the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act during the past year. “AM radio continues to reach a vast audience of 82 million listeners each month, and they are very engaged and have been vocal in telling Congress how important this medium is to them in light of the threat by automakers to remove AM from vehicles,” he says.

If passed, the proposed AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act would direct the Department of Transportation to issue a rule requiring that AM broadcast stations be accessible in all passenger motor vehicles manufactured in, imported into, or shipped within the U.S. The Government Accountability Office would also be required to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM radio for alerting the public during emergencies.

No votes have been taken in the House. But during a hearing on the bill last June, there was strong support for keeping AM radio in vehicles, although a few lawmakers expressed some concerns about putting a mandate on carmakers.

Meantime in the Senate, where the bill passed out of committee last July, the list of supporters has grown too, again with a bipartisan effort. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both added their names as cosponsors to the bill, bringing the list of supporters in the Senate to 46.

But Washington insiders say Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is unlikely to bring the bill up for a vote until that number hits 60. That is because Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has signaled he would move to block its passage. Paul has said he believes there is a better route to helping AM radio while not using government power to pick winners and losers. Paul thinks the easiest fix is for people to not buy electric cars, and for the Senate to go along with his idea of wiping out the $7,500 per electric car tax break offered by the federal government to buyers.

“Why subsidize people who don't want to put AM radio in the cars? I think the better way is actually just to get rid of the subsidy,” he said during a radio interview last month.

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