WASHINGTON — Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement today on the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which will provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) with authorities to counter unmanned aerial systems (CUAS) used for nefarious purposes:
“The evolving threat posed by malicious drone technology is quickly outpacing the federal government’s ability to respond. Transnational criminals use drones to identify security gaps in order to sneak into the country undetected. Smugglers use drones to bring illegal drugs across the border. Terrorist groups aspire to use armed drones against our homeland and U.S. interests and have already deployed such devices abroad to surveil, disrupt, and kill.
“Existing legal constraints and statutes have prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from addressing these drone-threat scenarios and protecting the American people. The Department’s lack of authorities also prevented us from testing truly needed drone-defense technologies. Today Congress took a major step forward to address these vulnerabilities.
“I am grateful Congress has voted to send a bill to the President’s desk that provides DHS the crucial authorities it needs to protect the homeland against unmanned aerial threats. Today’s action will help the U.S. government identify, track, and mitigate weaponized or dangerous unmanned aerial systems in our skies.
“I would like to thank Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-MO), of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) of the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for their support.
“Additionally, I would like to thank Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) of the House Homeland Security Committee; Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), who championed this legislation.
“The Department can now begin to address these vulnerabilities and stop nefarious actors from exploiting them.”
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