Rubio Joins Scott, Colleagues to Prohibit U.S. Government from Procuring Drones from Adversaries

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the American Security Drone Act of 2019, which would prohibit the U.S. government from procuring drones manufactured by covered foreign entities identified as national security threats, such as China. 

“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,” Rubio said. “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 Drone Security 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.”

“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. 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.”

“Our taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to support Chinese-developed technologies that undercut American companies and put our national security at risk,” Murphy said. “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.”

“China has stolen sensitive drone technology from America’s businesses and military for years, and now sells it back to us from a dominant position in the commercial drone market,” Cotton said. “Relying on drones made by our adversaries is a clear risk to our national security. This bill will ensure that all drones purchased by the U.S. government are made right here in America, or else by friendly nations that don’t wish us harm.”

“Every day, the Chinese government systematically directs its companies to acquire or outright steal our intellectual property and sensitive technology,” Hawley said. “The American Security Drone Act bans federal acquisition of drones from China and other adversaries to ensure that we stop enabling and rewarding these malicious actions. I look forward to working with Senator Scott to advance this critical legislation.”

“Like it or not, drones are our future. 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,” Blumenthal said. “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.”

The American Security Drone Act:

  • Prohibits Federal departments and agencies from procuring any commercial off-the-shelf drone or small unmanned aircraft system manufactured or assembled in countries identified as national security threats, and provides a timeline to end current use of these drones.
  • Prohibits the use of federal funds awarded through contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements to State or local governments from being used to purchase commercial off-the-shelf drones or small unmanned aircraft systems manufactured or assembled in a country identified as a national security threat.
  • Requires the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report to Congress detailing the amount of commercial off-the-shelf drones and small unmanned aircraft systems procured by Federal departments and agencies from countries identified as national security threats.