- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2019

Top House lawmakers revealed Friday that Homeland Security is working on plans to allow the government to shoot down drones flown near airports — and the members of Congress urged the administration to do a rethink.

The ranking Republicans on the House Transportation and Homeland Security Committees said they have become aware of efforts by Homeland Security, along with the Justice and Transportation departments, to work on shoot-down policies for unmanned aerial systems, or UAS.

But Reps. Sam Graves and Mike Rogers, in a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, said Congress never authorized the department to do shoot-downs near airports.

A 2018 law does authorize the government to use force to bring down drones near border facilities, Secret Service locations and buildings under guard by the Federal Protective Service, and it also allows for designation of special national security events where shoot-down powers are allowed.

None of those cover airports, the two Republicans said.

“The mitigation of a persistent UAS in the vicinity of an airport or in the airspace around such airport does not fall into any of the categories listed above or in law,” the lawmakers wrote.

Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

The lawmakers doubted the department’s capability of safely using counter-drone force over populated areas near airports.

“While we share the goal of ensuring that our nation’s airports are not disrupted by negligent or nefarious UAS operations, DHS does not have the authority or the experience necessary to operate C-UAS equipment in the manner proposed,” the Republicans said.

They said the administration could come back to Congress to propose another agency that could handle shooting down drones.

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