Graves’ bill would put U.S. ‘one step ahead of emerging drone threats’

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) on June 4 offered a bipartisan bill that would renew and reform current legal authorities set to expire in October that enable the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to mitigate credible threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). 

“This important bill reauthorizes and reforms federal counter-UAS authorities while ensuring that the National Airspace System remains safe and open to drone innovation,” said Rep. Graves, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee.

“With this legislation,” the congressman added, “we will stay one step ahead of emerging drone threats and begin to put tools into the hands of law enforcement to detect, identify, and, if necessary, mitigate threats posed by unlawful drone usage.”

Rep. Graves is among four original cosponsors of the Counter-UAS Authority Security, Safety, and Reauthorization Act, H.R. 8610, which is sponsored by U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-TN). U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rick Larsen (D-WA), ranking member of the T&I Committee, are also original cosponsors of the bill.

“Coming to agreement across the aisle and across committee jurisdictions is never easy, and I’m grateful for the bipartisan partnership of T&I Ranking Member Larsen and the leaders of the Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees for making this bill possible,” Rep. Graves said.

Specifically, H.R. 8610 would clarify and improve coordination requirements between DHS, DOJ, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); prohibit DHS and DOJ from using or authorizing the use of counter-UAS systems that have been manufactured by certain foreign enterprises; provide Homeland Security Investigations at DHS with counter-UAS authority; and provide DHS with counter-UAS authority to protect public airports, the summary says.

Among numerous other provisions, the bill would direct the FAA to establish counter-UAS system minimum performance requirements and provide the FAA with counter-UAS authority to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the National Airspace System, while also allowing DHS to authorize the acquisition, deployment, and operation of counter-UAS systems by owners or operators of covered sites and critical infrastructure, according to the summary.

“This legislation provides the foundation for a safe and responsible expansion of counter-drone technologies, putting in place a framework that will ensure public safety and security,” Rep. Larsen said. “It ensures all levels of law enforcement are working in concert to secure the nation’s airspace, airports, and citizens.” 

In addition to the standalone legislation, Rep. Graves, Rep. Green, and the cosponsors also introduced identical provisions as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act, according to staff.