Drone-Related Threats Addressed in New Government Stopgap Funding Law and Multiple Active Bills

drones concept

The U.S. government has narrowly averted a midnight shutdown of most federal agencies with the passage of a short-term spending bill hours before the deadline. 

The stopgap bill passed in the Senate with a 72-25 vote, passed 230 to 201 out of the House and was then signed by President Joe Biden.

The legislation, known as a continuing resolution, will allow the government to remain funded at current spending levels through Dec. 16. The stopgap measure was needed to keep the government running because Congress has failed to pass any of the 12 annual spending bills for fiscal 2023, which began Oct. 1.

The bill, which provides new money for domestic disaster relief and international aid, also includes a short-term extension of the authorization in the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 for the U.S. Department of Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to track and counter threats posed by drones.

A bipartisan bill (H.R. 8949) was recently introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), which closely resembles a longer-termed renewal of existing measures for battling drone threats. This summer the Senate Homeland Security Committee approved a bill (S. 4687) that included some of the policy recommendations from the White House’s “Domestic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan,” which would extend counter-drone authorities to the Transportation Security Administration and some state and local governments.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee also recently marked up a separate drone-related measure from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) that would require an interagency strategy to combat drones at the border (S. 4919), and the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation recently held a hearing on the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration where the certification of emerging aircraft technologies, airspace management, workforce and infrastructure needed to support the deployment of advanced air mobility and uncrewed aerial systems into the National Airspace System were considered.

House and Senate appropriators will return after the November midterm elections to discuss top-line defense and domestic spending levels. Details are still being worked out on the National Defense Authorization Act and a full government funding package for FY2023, but it is likely that one or both measures will address drone-related issues.