In the House this week, a bill introduced by Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02) that prohibits the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from procuring drones manufactured in China passed by voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Originally introduced in October, the Drone Origin Security Enhancement Act aims to enhance national security by preventing the Secretary of Homeland Security from utilizing drones made in China and other foreign countries deemed strategic competitors to the United States by the Department of Defense (DOD).
“The risk posed by certain foreign drone manufacturers is well-documented and presents a national security threat. Chinese manufactured drones could provide a back door for the Chinese government to access sensitive flight data from drones used by DHS,” Rep. Crenshaw said on the House floor in support of the bill.
Other countries deemed strategic competitors by the National Defense Strategy of 2018 include Russia, North Korea, and Iran.
Recently, DHS has expressed concerns about manufactured drones relaying sensitive data back to China where it can be analyzed by the Chinese government.
China has long engaged in espionage and been accused of stealing sensitive documents detailing military aircraft and weapons designs from American manufacturers and government entities.
In 2015, speculation of Chinese espionage and the stealing of top-secret military designs, including F-35 planes among other equipment, arose within the national defense community.
Moreover, Rep. Crenshaw’s bill passed the same week the Justice Department announced its intention to charge four Chinese military hackers with stealing millions of Americans’ personal data in the Equifax network breach that occurred in 2017.
The bill aimed at enhancing national security is co-sponsored by fellow Texas Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX-03) in addition to five others, including ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) from New Mexico.
“We are in a new age of cyber conflict. The United States must be intentional with who we trust to manufacture our most sensitive technology. Our homeland security and the safety of users depend on it,” Rep. Torres Small (D-NM) said, reflecting bipartisan support for the act.
Rep. Taylor also applauded the efforts made on behalf of the legislation saying, “It’s imperative we protect America’s defense technology from foreign companies and governments who may wish to do us harm.”
“Furthermore, America should strive to promote domestic production and development of drone technology so we may continue to serve as a global leader in defense innovation. I applaud my colleagues in the House for coming together to pass this commonsense legislation,” Taylor continued.
This week, another piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Crenshaw also passed in the House with bipartisan support in a 380-4 vote.
The DHS Acquisition Reform Act aims to ensure acquisition programs in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are adhering to both deadlines and budget constraints to “ensure we are being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Crenshaw says of the legislation.
Elected in 2018, Rep. Crenshaw represents Texas’ 2nd Congressional District in the Houston area.
The retired U.S. Navy SEAL has five overseas deployments under his belt and currently serves on the Homeland Security Committee, the Budget Committee, and as the ranking member of the Oversight, Management and Accountability Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee.
Rep. Crenshaw’s legislation now will be referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee moving forward.
Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.