Letter to Congress to Expand Counter-UAS Authorities

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Republican Leader McCarthy, and Republican Leader McConnell:

The undersigned organizations strongly support ensuring a robust legislative framework to counter threats posed by the illicit and careless use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). While we appreciate the short-term extension of existing counter-UAS authorities, we urge Congress to pursue a bipartisan and bicameral process to enact legislation that responsibly expands detection and mitigation authorities balanced by appropriate safeguards.

UAS provide significant economic and social benefits to the United States and it is imperative for America to lead globally in this innovative technology. The vast majority of UAS operations do not pose any threat. However, the misuse of UAS presents substantial economic, public safety, and national security risks. This includes disrupting commercial activity, industrial espionage, endangering others operating in the national airspace and on the ground, terrorism and criminal activity, and other nefarious conduct.

Currently, four federal agencies have the authority to undertake counter-UAS detection and mitigation actions for several targeted missions. While these authorities are crucial to protect the safety and security of critical facilities and assets, a more comprehensive approach is required to provide a layered defense against sensitive public and private sector operations, events, and sites. Some of these include critical infrastructure facilities, mass gatherings such as sporting and entertainment events, and aviation operations. Without expanded authorities, these types of events and sites are at significant risk from malicious and unauthorized UAS operations. A comprehensive approach would, at minimum, include the following: 

  • Expand DOJ and DHS’s existing authorities to cover additional crucial assets and facilities such as critical infrastructure facilities and airports and associated navigation aids;
  • Provide detection-only authority to state, local (including airports), tribal law enforcement and critical infrastructure operators;
  • Create a pilot program for state, local (including airports), and tribal law enforcement to utilize mitigation equipment;
  • Enable federal agencies to effectively conduct research, testing, training, and evaluation of detection and mitigation equipment;
  • Ensure robust coordination between federal agencies, including with the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and other relevant federal agencies; and
  • Balance expanded counter-UAS authorities with protecting privacy, ensuring aviation safety, enabling continued federal regulation and oversight of the national airspace, and allowing authorized commercial activity.

Ensuring the safety and security of the national airspace is a crucial priority for our organizations and counter-UAS plays a significant role in achieving that objective. We urge you to act on this important issue.


American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
Air Line Pilots Association
Airlines for America
Airports Council International – North America
American Chemistry Council
American Gas Association
American Petroleum Institute
Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies
Commercial Drone Alliance
DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Alliance
Edison Electric Institute
IAAPA, The Global Association for the Attractions Industry
Interstate Natural Gas Association of America
Major Cities Chiefs Association
Major County Sheriffs of America
Major League Baseball
National Football League
National Fusion Center Association
Stadium Managers Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Honorable Maria Cantwell, Chair, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
The Honorable Roger Wicker, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
The Honorable Peter DeFazio, Chair, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
The Honorable Sam Graves, Ranking Member, House Committee on Transportation, and Infrastructure
The Honorable Gary Peters, Chair, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs|
The Honorable Rob Portman, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
The Honorable Bennie Thompson, Chair, House Committee on Homeland Security
The Honorable John Katko, Ranking Member, House Committee on Homeland Security
The Honorable Dick Durbin, Chair, Senate Committee on Judiciary
The Honorable Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Judiciary
The Honorable Jerry Nadler, Chair, House Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Jim Jordan, Ranking Member, House Committee on the Judiciary