Updated House Legislation Accelerates AM Radio Solution

NRB | May 31, 2024 | Advocacy

As support builds on Capitol Hill for a legislative solution protecting AM radio, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Chairman of the Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) recently introduced an amended version of the legislation that is aligned with the Senate bill text. The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2024 (H.R.8449) was quickly voted out of subcommittee, an incremental next step toward the bill becoming law.

Why the new bill? Typically, when the House and Senate pass different versions of similar bills, they are sent to a conference committee in which representatives from both chambers (usually senior members of the committee of jurisdiction) work to reconcile the text. When compromise is reached, the committee produces a report that must be approved by both chambers of Congress. By introducing House bill text that already aligns with the Senate version, the bill now has an easier path to passage. 

The new legislation still requires automakers to keep AM radio in vehicles but gives them more time to comply with the legislation. The previous version of the legislation offered no timetable for when the mandate needs to be met. Now, most automakers will have at least two years to comply while automakers that produce fewer than 40,000 vehicles each year will have up to four years.

The legislation works through directing the Department of Transportation, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission, to issue a rule that will require automakers to ensure that AM radio capabilities remain in cars as a standard, conspicuous, and easily accessible device in all cars. 

Now that the bill has advanced out of subcommittee markup, it awaits consideration from the full committee. The original version of the legislation (H.R.3413) has the bipartisan support of 251 House lawmakers, and the Senate version (S.1669) recently scored a supermajority of 60 cosponsors.

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