WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Thursday made the following statement on reports that the U.S. Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt this week told department leadership that future drone purchases should be vetted against a list of DoD-approved, U.S.-made drones:
“I’m glad the Interior Department is continuing to shift away from using Chinese-made drones. Other agencies across the United States Government should follow suit in order to protect U.S. national security and support American manufacturers,” said Murphy.
In 2018, after hearing concerns from a Connecticut-based drone manufacturer, Murphy called on then U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to ban Chinese-made commercial drones at the DoD and instead support U.S. drone manufacturers. DoD followed Murphy’s call and halted the purchase of all small commercial drones, including those made by Da Jiang Innovations. Additionally, Murphy secured more transparency and critical protections for American companies against foreign-made drones in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2019, which partially funds the Department of Interior. This was critical for national security and a “Buy American” victory for Connecticut-based companies that have to compete with artificially priced Chinese-made drones. Murphy’s provision banning the use of Chinese-made drones was included in the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Murphy and U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also introduced the American Security Drone Act of 2019 prohibiting the U.S. government from purchasing drones manufactured in countries identified as national security threats like Iran and China.