Vice Ranking Member Guest Introduces Two Important Amendments During CHS Budget Reconciliation Markup
Washington, D.C. – Today, Vice Ranking Member Michael Guest (MS-03) offered two important amendments in the Committee on Homeland Security (CHS) budget reconciliation markup. The first would prohibit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds from being used to enter or renew a contract for any unmanned aircraft system manufactured in China. The second would repurpose $40 million in the U.S. Treasury for the Operation Stonegarden grant program to enhance border security by providing grants to law enforcement agencies that are involved in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations.
Drone Contract Protection Amendment
In this new era of persistent cyber threats targeting our homeland and critical infrastructure, it is imperative that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is able to protect the nation against all threats. This defense includes ensuring that the Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, that DHS uses and buys are not made in foreign countries that do not align with American interests.
DHS requires the air dominant capabilities that drones provide to accomplish many of its land and maritime missions, and utilizing drones is a cost-effective way to provide surveillance over large areas of the homeland.
However, many of the commercial drones used in the United States are manufactured in China, which dominates the U.S. market. Of the top 10 drone manufacturers that supply the U.S. market, a single Chinese manufacturer towers over all others with nearly 77 percent of market share. The former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director wrote that “any information collected by a drone from this particular manufacturer should be considered at risk.”
In 2017, HIS issued a notice regarding a particular Chinese company that dominates the U.S. drone market. It warned that these drones were providing critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.
Because of this threat, several other Departments, such as Commerce and the Interior, have taken actions to ground their drone fleets until the threat to U.S. government data can be determined.
Our colleagues in the Senate share our concerns; Senator Rick Scott has introduced similar legislation to ban the purchase of these drones across the federal government, not just at DHS.
Given the role that drones play in protecting our homeland security, and with the Chinese Communist Party representing the greatest threat to our homeland in the last 50 years, this amendment is more important than ever. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
Operation Stonegarden Grant Funding Amendment
It is the responsibility of Congress and specifically the responsibility of this Committee to fix gaps in our immigration system that benefit criminals and we must address the challenges that we face along our southwest border. Our law enforcement agents risk their lives to keep our communities safe. It is imperative that we provide the men and women of law enforcement with the proper equipment to perform their duties and do so safely. This amendment would provide funding for much-needed assistance to law enforcement agencies in states along our borders working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Since January of 2021, there have been over 1.3 million illegal crossings along our southwest border. This amendment is imperative in helping CBP secure our borders given the sheer number of narcotics and individuals illegally flowing across our border in unprecedented numbers. In FY 2021, border agents have seen a 187% increase in cocaine, a 63% increase in heroine, and a 2,067% increase in fentanyl seized at the border – all these seized at the southwest border.
FEMA’s Operation Stonegarden grant program provides funds to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies bordering Mexico, Canada, or a maritime border. This grant program supports enhanced cooperation and coordination among CBP, the U.S. Border Patrol, and federal and State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial law enforcement agencies to improve overall border security.
Operation Stonegarden is currently active in all 22 states that have ongoing U.S. Border Patrol operations.
This amendment would allow the grant program to alleviate the stress placed on CBP by providing local law enforcement agencies with additional funding to equip and train officers to successfully supplement efforts to secure our borders.
I urge my colleagues on both side of the aisle to join me in support of this amendment – for our law enforcement community needs our help and it is our duty to help them as they help us keep our families and our communities safe.
Congressman Michael Guest represents Mississippi's Third Congressional District. Currently serving his second term, Congressman Guest serves as the Vice Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, as a Member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and as a Member of the Committee on Ethics.
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