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Unmanned Aerial Security Act closer to passage

The House Committee on Homeland Security has advanced four Homeland Republican bills to increase transparency in the Department of Homeland Security’s grants process, streamline aviation security, mitigate criminal activity on the border (UAS Act), combat the threat from foreign-made drones, and bring the production of homeland security equipment home.

The Unmanned Aerial Security (UAS) Act, introduced by Mississippi Congressman Michael Guest, would ensure that unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones, used by the Department of Homeland Security are not manufactured in adversarial countries whose interests do not align with those of the United States. The legislation was cosponsored by Ranking Member John Katko of New York and Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.

“Given the role drones have in protecting homeland security, it is more important than ever to require DHS to assess its drone fleets,” Vice Ranking Member Guest said. “This is a necessary step for the Department to determine whether they have drones made by ‘covered foreign countries,’ which is a country that the Intelligence Community and DHS have determined to be an adversary, such as China. With the Chinese Communist Party representing the greatest 50-year threat to our homeland, critical measures like this one are more important than ever before. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”

“For too long, the U.S. government has relied upon drones built by adversaries, like China, to perform critical air surveillance,” said Ranking Member Katko. “The Chinese Communist Party’s history of stealing our technology and sensitive information is well-documented, and we cannot allow the status quo to continue. Several other federal agencies have taken action to address threats posed by foreign-made drones, and it’s time for DHS to do to the same. I commend Vice Ranking Member Guest for his efforts to better secure the homeland by prohibiting DHS from buying or using drones made by countries like China.”

“The United States should lead the world in developing drones and counter-UAS technology and certainly not rely on China or any other foreign adversaries that our intelligence community have deemed as threats,” said Congressman Gottheimer. This bipartisan bill addresses a gap in our national security by ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security does not procure its sensitive drone technology from the wrong sources. I am glad that the Committee is focused on emerging technologies like UAS, and I look forward to working across the aisle to help this bill become law.”

Click here for the full text of the legislation.

The other pieces of legislation which passed the committee include:

  • The One-Stop Pilot Program Act of 2021 (H.R. 4094), introduced by Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY), conducts a pilot program at foreign last point of departure airports to permit passengers and their accessible property to continue on additional flights or flight segments originating in the U.S. without additional security re-screening. This process will not only allow passengers to travel with greater ease, but it will also streamline airport security efforts.
  • The DHS Illicit Cross-Border Tunnel Defense Act (H.R. 4209), introduced by Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), aims to secure the southern border by directing CBP to develop a plan to counteract illegal underground tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border. This bill will thwart drug cartels and human traffickers who utilize the more than 230 tunnels currently in existence to smuggle narcotics, weapons, and cash back and forth on the border.
  • The DHS Contract Reporting Act of 2021 (H.R. 4363), introduced by Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), establishes a public reporting requirement for covered contract awards of the Department of Homeland Security. This bill will give Congress and the American people better insight into how DHS supports its mission.

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