Bipartisan legislation introduced to reform DHS and DOJ C-UAS authorities

A bipartisan group of US Congressmen have introduced the Counter-UAS Authority Security, Safety, and Reauthorization Act of 2024. This legislation would renew and reform current legal authorities, set to expire in October, that provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) with the tools to mitigate credible threats posed by uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS). 

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS), House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA), and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the bipartisan legislation.

The Counter-UAS Authority Security, Safety, and Reauthorization Act of 2024 would extend existing DHS and DOJ C-UAS authorities through October 1, 2028, to counter the growing threat from UAS. Among other measures, this critical legislation would: 

  • Clarify and improve coordination requirements between DHS, DOJ, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the FAA. 
  • Increase public privacy and civil liberty protections by ensuring that information gathered by approved C-UAS systems is not misused or retained for extended periods of time.
  • Prohibit DHS and DOJ from using or authorising the use of counter-UAS systems that have been manufactured by certain foreign enterprises.
  • Provide Homeland Security Investigations, the principal investigative component of DHS, with counter-UAS authority; and provide DHS with C-UAS authority to protect public airports. 
  • Direct the FAA to establish C-UAS system minimum performance requirements and provide the FAA with C-UAS authority to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the National Airspace System.
  • Allow DHS to authorise the acquisition, deployment, and operation of C-UAS systems by owners or operators of covered sites and critical infrastructure. 
  • Require DHS to establish a C-UAS mitigation pilot program under which selected State law enforcement agencies may operate approved C-UAS mitigation systems and mitigate unauthorised UAS operations on behalf of covered entities. 
  • Require DHS and DOJ to establish standards for C-UAS system training programmes and operator qualifications for the use of C-UAS detection and mitigation systems, equipment, or technology.
  • Require the FAA, in coordination with DHS and DOJ, to develop a plan for C-UAS operations at airports.

In addition to this standalone legislation, Chairman Green and the co-sponsors also introduced identical provisions as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act.
“I am glad that Democrats and Republicans in the House were finally able to come together on legislation to extend and expand federal government counter-drone authorities, which are critical for national security and for keeping the homeland secure as we face dynamic and emerging threats,” Ranking Member Thompson said. “This bill would extend these authorities for four years through 2028 and also increase relevant privacy and civil liberty protections while expanding the federal government’s efforts in a measured way.”

C-UAS authorities were previously covered under the Preventing Emerging Threats Act, which was signed into law in 2018 as a FAA Reauthorization Act provision.

The new bill must pass the House and Senate before reaching the President to be signed into law.

For more information

House Committee on Homeland Security

Image: Shutterstock

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