H.R. 4682 would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from operating, financing, or procuring unmanned aircraft systems (drones), and certain components of or software for drones, that are manufactured in or by companies headquartered in countries deemed to be foreign adversaries by the department or the intelligence community. The bill would allow DHS to waive the prohibition if the department submits a certification to the Congress that the drone use is either in the national interest of the United States or is required for certain other intelligence purposes. Under the bill, DHS would be allowed to operate for one year after the bill’s enactment any drones it currently owns that would be prohibited under the bill. Lastly, H.R. 4682 would require DHS to report to the Congress on risks associated with operating drones manufactured in countries deemed foreign adversaries.
CBO expects that any changes required under the bill would not require substantial action by DHS because the department could waive the prohibition or procure drone materials from other sources. On that basis and using information about the costs of similar activities, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2021-2026 period; any such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
By allowing all Departments to waive the current legal prohibitions against purchase of foreign drones, the net effect of this bill seems to be the de-facto end of the “Blue SUAS” program.