Florida’s two senators are leading the charge on Capitol Hill to ensure the federal government doesn’t buy drones from countries considered national security threats–including China and Iran.
This week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., unveiled the “American Security Drone Act” and he has reeled in the support of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is cosponsoring the measure.
Scott weighed in on why he had introduced the bill and he came out swinging at China.
“There are nations around the world, like China, that are actively building up their militaries to compete with America,” Scott said. “China is stealing our technology and intellectual property, yet the U.S. government continues to buy critical technology, like drones, with American tax dollars from Chinese companies backed by their government.
“For far too long, we have turned a blind eye to China and allowed their technology into some of the most critical operations of the U.S. government.” Scott added. “This has to stop. The American Security Drone Act protects our information and national security by prohibiting the federal government and our military from buying drones manufactured in countries that are our adversaries.”
Rubio, who sits on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, threw his support behind Scott’s proposal.
“American taxpayer dollars should not go to state-directed or state-owned companies used by China to undermine U.S. and foreign competition, especially in critical industries that are vital to U.S. national security,” said Rubio. “Chinese companies routinely steal and provide information to Beijing’s military and intelligence apparatus, and DHS recently warned of the threat posed by Chinese-manufactured unmanned aerial systems and components. The American Security Drone Act seeks to protect U.S. national security and ensure taxpayer funds are not being used to buy drones from companies backed by the Chinese Communist Party and other foreign adversaries.”
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.”
Scott has reeled in the support of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., from the GOP majority while the two Democrats representing Connecticut–U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy–are also backing the bill.
“Our taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to support Chinese-developed technologies that undercut American companies and put our national security at risk. We know that China and other adversaries have used drones to spy and collect sensitive data in the past, and I’ve heard directly from companies in Connecticut that are concerned about this issue. Instead of rewarding bad actors like China we should be investing in the development of a U.S.-based supply chain that creates jobs and protects our national security,” Murphy said.
“Like it or not, drones are our future,” said Blumenthal. “Without congressional action, adversaries like China and Iran will use drone technology as tiny Trojan Horses to spy on our government, our critical infrastructure – even our hospitals and homes. This bill will ensure that we don’t send China and others a gold-plated, flying invitation to steal our intellectual property, undermine our domestic technology, and spy on our communities.”
Scott’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.