Last week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., brought back his proposal to ensure the federal government doesn’t buy drones from countries considered national security threats–including China and Iran.
Back in September 2019, Scott unveiled the “American Security Drone Act” and reeled in the support of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who cosponsored the measure.
While he did not get the bill over the finish line in the 116th Congress, Scott reintroduced it last week.
The bill prohibits all federal departments and agencies to buy drones from countries considered national security threats. Scott’s proposal also ensures federal funds are not sent to local and state governments who buy drones from those countries. The bill would also have the Comptroller General of the United States “submit a report to Congress detailing the amount of foreign commercial off-the-shelf drones and covered unmanned aircraft systems procured by federal departments and agencies from countries identified as national security threats.”
“I’m proud to join my colleagues to reintroduce my American Security Drone Act, which will help protect our national security and the privacy of American citizens by prohibiting the federal government from buying drones manufactured by our adversaries. I’ve been very clear about the threat we face from technology companies controlled by Communist China, which is known for espionage and theft of technology. For too long, the United States has used taxpayer dollars to buy drones from companies backed by the Communist Chinese government, allowing one of the United States’ biggest adversaries into the most sensitive areas of our government and putting our national security at risk. There’s absolutely no reason we should allow this to continue. We must pass the American Security Drone Act immediately,” Scott said when he brought the bill back.
Scott has reeled in the support of Rubio, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., from the GOP side of the aisle while the two Democrats representing Connecticut–U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy–are also backing the bill.
“In no way shape or form should we be using taxpayer dollars to purchase drones from foreign adversaries—especially countries like China that have stolen sensitive information from us in the past. I’m glad to reintroduce the American Security Drone Act that bans this practice and in turn supports U.S. manufacturers and our national security,” said Murphy.
“Chinese companies routinely steal U.S. intellectual property and seek to undermine our national security. The national security risks associated with Chinese manufactured drones are well known, and a number of federal agencies have already taken steps to mitigate this threat. The American Security Drone Act would make sure that American policies do not invite this malicious behavior from the Chinese Communist Party by prohibiting taxpayer dollars to be used to buy drones from Chinese companies or other foreign adversaries,” Rubio said.
Scott’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House. In the last Congress, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., introduced the House version and reeled in support from both sides of the aisle including then U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who retired in 2020 after sticking to his pledge to serve only four terms in Congress.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.