In a video statement released this week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas expressed the need for Congress to reauthorize and expand DHS’s Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) authorities.

Secretary Mayorkas’ comments come as the current C-UAS authorities for DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) expire on September 30th, 2023. DOJ and DHS received C-UAS authorities from Congress from the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018.

The Secretary noted the extraordinary benefits that drones provide to society, but also recognized that the systems are being used nefariously for tasks such carrying fentanyl across the border and surveillance of law enforcement

Secretary Mayorkas noted that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) did not have the authority to use Counter-UAS capabilities to protect airports and that the expansion of authorities is needed to protect the Homeland. He also highlighted that state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT), and campus law enforcement could not exercise Counter-UAS capabilities to protect their local communities.

The remarks were provided during a C-UAS Demonstration Day held at DHS Headquarters recently. Additional information and the video of the remarks can be found at Video News Release: Secretary Mayorkas Calls for Extension and Expansion of Counter-UAS (Drone) Authorities

Several Congressional bills have been introduced during the legislative session to extend and expand the Counter-UAS authorities of federal agencies, SLTT, and critical infrastructure. Most notably, both the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have recently released their versions of the “Safeguarding the Homeland from the Threats Posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act of 2023.” Information on the Senate version, S. 1631 can be found at – New Counter-UAS Legislation Text. Information on the House version can be found at- House Introduces Companion Legislation.

Other recent legislation related to Counter-UAS includes:

H.R. 1501- Unmanned Aerial Security Act

Bill Allows FAA To Fine $25K for C-UAS Violations

S.896- Shield U Act- CUAS for SLTT and Airports

H.R. 3560- Enhances Counter-UAS Research

Post Image- Image of a drone carrying a package as part of the demonstration during DHS’ Secretary Mayorkas’ call for expansion of C-UAS authorities (Image Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)