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Cruz Effort to Advance AM Radio Bill Stalls on Senate Floor

- Strong Bipartisan Support May Help Revive Measure

Sen. Ted Cruz last week made a valiant attempt to pass the AM for Every Vehicle Act out of the United States Senate but was stymied by opposition from fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky who characterized it as an unwarranted government mandate, despite the government mandating other safety systems such as seat restraints, air bags, and more.

The legislation was filed in response to announcements by some automakers earlier this year that they planned to eliminate AM Radio from their vehicles – particularly electric vehicles – ostensibly because they couldn’t resolve interference issues caused by systems common to new driving technologies.

That has been disproved by other automakers, including Ford Motor Company which was one of the companies that made the claim but backtracked after the bill was filed and agreed even to reactivate AM Radio in vehicles where they had already blocked it.

The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act would:

  • Direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule that requires automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without a separate or additional payment, fee, or surcharge beyond the base price of the device;
  • Require any automaker that sells vehicles without access to AM broadcast radio before the effective date of the NHTSA regulation to clearly disclose to consumers that the vehicle lacks access to AM broadcast radio; and
  • Direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the reach and effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for alerting the public to emergencies relative to other technologies.

Cruz was joined in co-authoring the bill by his political polar opposite, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who also helped tee up the floor vote and was assisted by Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico.

“In times of disaster, AM Radio is the single most reliable medium for communicating about a natural disaster,” Cruz said in his remarks to the Senate.

“AM Radio is constantly the most resilient to help people get out of harm’s way, whether it is getting out of the way of a hurricane...or a tornado or...a forest fire or any other disaster, AM Radio is there to help people know where to go and how to keep their families alive,” the Senator said.

He also noted AM Radio’s importance to rural Texans and other Americans, noting that farmers and ranchers rely immensely on AM Radio for weather reports, crop reports, news, sports and entertainment, and that the medium is a vital opportunity for diversity on the airwaves.

“AM Radio promotes a diversity of views...because the barriers of entry to getting into AM Radio are relatively low. As a consequence, we see a beautiful array of diversity of views reflected on AM Radio nationally,” Cruz said.


Next Steps, Broad Support

There does not appear to be a path to passage before year-end because must-pass spending bills that typically are approved in late December and become “vehicles” for other legislation are being pushed into next year.

That’s because House Republicans leading the lower chamber have been mired in political turmoil for months, delaying the process for most major appropriations measures.

But, as Cruz noted in his remarks, the bill enjoys extraordinary support in both chambers of Congress, as well as from an array of public and private organizations, and that could improve its chances early in 2024.

Congressional supporters include 44 Senators (half Republicans, half Democrats) and 194 Representatives (101 Republicans, 94 Democrats).

Organizational supporters in addition to TAB include the AARP, National Association of Broadcasters, All 50 State Broadcasters Associations, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, National Religious Broadcasters, Big City Emergency Managers, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Emergency Management Association, International Association of Emergency Managers, IHeart Media, National Association of Counties, National Hispanic Media Connection, Screen Actors Guild-American Foundation for Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, Latino Farmers & Ranchers International, Inc., Livestock Marketing Association, National Grange, National Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union, Rural & Agriculture Council of America, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, ALLvanza, National Urban League, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Texas Farm Bureau, Cox Media Group, Salem Radio Group, Bryan Broadcasting.

Questions? Contact Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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