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Congress and Money, Drone Industry Influencing Washington to Further Domestic Drones
by Ezra Van Auken
With the help of influence in Washington, Americans could possibly see the operation of domestic drones a lot sooner than expected. Although there has been a push to bring about guidelines for deploying drones in US airspace, lawmakers are pushing even more to lessen the wait for operating the unmanned vehicles, with much of the reason being because of money influence.
Center for Responsive Politics and Hearst News joined forces to give the best understanding as to why Congress would want to push forward a date. “The drone makers have sought congressional help to speed their entry into a domestic market valued in the billions. The 60-member House of Representatives’ “drone caucus” — officially, the House Unmanned Systems Caucus — has helped push that agenda. And over the last four years, caucus members have drawn nearly $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions,” CRP and Hearst explained.
The two groups also went on to say, “House members from California, Texas, Virginia and New York on the bipartisan “drone caucus” received the lion’s share of the funds channeled to lawmakers from dozens of firms that are members of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Hearst and CRP found.
Eleven drone caucus lawmakers from California, where many aviation firms are located, received more than $2.4 million from manufacturers’ political action committees and employees during the 2012 and 2010 election cycles, according to CRP tabulation of Federal Election Commission reports.
Eight Texas House members in the caucus received more than $746,000. And four caucus members from New York got more than $185,000 from companies connected to the business of unmanned vehicles.”
If you live in California you’ll want to listen because Rep. Howard McKeon who happens to be cochairman of the drone caucus is actually the top earner when it comes to donations from the drone market. In total, drone companies gave Rep. McKeon over $800,000. Other Reps. including Darrell Issa, Duncan Hunter, Ken Calvert, and Jerry Lewis made $200,000 or more. Interestingly, drone companies such as General Atomics have focused their wealth on states near the border, for obvious reason.
This past June, Senator Rand Paul worked to give Americans their right of privacy by bringing forth a bill that would “protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones.”
Specifically the bill declares, “A person or entity acting under the authority [of], or funded in whole or in part by, the Government of the United States shall not use a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
One thing is apparent, the money influencing Washington has found a new hole and it’s ready to start filling that bucket as well, of course as long as politicians get their end of the deals.
As Joe Wolverton of TheNewAmerican noted, “No wonder these companies are champing at the bit to grease the skids for the removal of obstacles to their overseas sales plans. In a recently published study, the Teal Group estimates that UAV spending will almost double over the next decade from current worldwide UAV expenditures of $6.6 billion annually to $11.4 billion, totaling just over $89 billion in the next 10 years.”
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