A bipartisan group of House members has introduced legislation that would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) authorities to take more aggressive action in countering illicit drone aircraft activities.

The legislation – Safeguarding the Homeland from the Threats Posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act of 2023 –  was introduced by Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., Troy Carter, D-La., and Mike Johnson, R-La., on June 26.

“It’s no secret that commercial drones are becoming more and more commonplace in our communities,” saidRep. Houlahan. “Whether that be at soccer games or school functions, near military bases or airports, we need to make sure that there are sensible guardrails in place to protect Americans from potential threats.”

The legislation comes as an ever-growing scope of drone technologies becomes more available to the civilian market, and creating greater possibility for them to be used in illicit ways.

“As the market for unmanned aircraft systems expands, it is critically important that our law enforcement agencies are equipped with the tools necessary to counteract any potential threats,” said Rep. Johnson. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan group of lawmakers in sponsoring this bill.”

Congress approved the Preventing Emerging Threats Act in 2018, which has helped DHS and DOJ combat possible drone threats, but that law is set to expire on September.

The new House legislation also would authorize DHS and DOJ to launch a pilot program to train local authorities in drone detection and mitigation.

The House bill has a companion measure in the Senate introduced in May by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.