[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 98 (Wednesday, June 27, 2012)]
[Pages H4135-H4151]

                        APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2013


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Burgess

  Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill before the short title, insert the 
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used by the Secretary of Transportation to authorize a 
       (1) to operate an unmanned aircraft system in the national 
     airspace system for the purpose, in whole or in part, of 
     using the unmanned aircraft system as a weapon or to deliver 
     a weapon against a person or property; or
       (2) to manufacture, sell, or distribute an unmanned 
     aircraft system, or a component thereof, for use in the 
     national airspace system as a weapon or to deliver a weapon 
     against a person or property.

  Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order on the 
gentleman's amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Iowa reserves a point of order.
  The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Chairman, there has been a lot of discussion about 
the use of unmanned aircraft, commonly referred to as drones, in United 
States airspace, and rightfully so.
  Beginning with the FAA reauthorization bill which passed this House 
earlier in the year, the expansion of the use of unmanned aerial 
vehicles in the continental United States was expanded. Arguably, this 
was a useful expansion because we have vast areas of our border which 
are difficult to monitor. Sometimes there are search and rescue 
occurrences that happen in rough terrain where an unmanned aerial 
vehicle may be indispensable. But since that time, there has been a 
growing body of people who have been concerned about the effect of 
allowing these unmanned aerial vehicles the ability to surveil 
citizens. There has also been talk about the EPA using it to monitor 
herd size and the grazing habits of farmers. These are questions that 
are going to need to be answered. But in recent weeks, I have become 
aware of some discussion that in certain police jurisdictions they were 
talking about an army of unmanned aerial vehicles to assist in law 
  Maybe that's something that's worthwhile to consider, but I can't 
help but feel that a step taken that far is something that this body 
should consider. While I appreciate the subcommittee chairman's concern 
about legislating on an appropriations bill, we're in new territory. 
We're in uncharted territory, and this amendment is a first-aid 
maneuver. It is to place a bandage, if you will, on a growing problem 
to see if we can't stop and have the discussion before the Secretary 
spends money authorizing the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles.
  No one disputes in war zones and in battle space the use of an 
unmanned aerial vehicle. An armed unmanned aerial vehicle is incredibly 
useful. No one argues the utility of these unmanned aircraft in that 
situation. All I would say is that before we allow that to be occurring 
in our backyards, on our highways and byways, we need to consider the 
effects of that. Are we, in fact, ensuring the constitutional rights of 
the people who not just are being surveilled, but who may be being 
controlled by the armaments that would be present in these weaponized 
  My amendment would prevent the Secretary of Transportation, the head 
of the FAA, from approving any application to use an unmanned aircraft 
in the United States airspace for the purpose of arming or weaponizing 
that aircraft. It does not affect the surveillance question. So 
surveillance drone applications certainly, if they are authorized, may 
go forward. Nor does it affect weaponized drones that are operating 
outside the United States airspace.
  The amendment that I offer today is preemptive. As to my knowledge, 
no actual applications have been filed with the FAA to use armed drones 
in U.S. airspace. But I believe it is necessary, as there has been some 
discussion in the public media about the ability to arm unmanned aerial 
vehicles. I personally believe this is a road down which we should not 
travel. It is the old argument of sacrificing safety for security, and 
ultimately achieving neither objective.
  I think this is an amendment that would be well advised by this body 
to consider this evening. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of it 
if it is allowed to stand, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I continue on my reservation, and I move to 
strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Iowa is recognized for 5 
  Mr. LATHAM. I want to thank the gentleman. Unfortunately, for 
consistency, we're going to have to pursue the point of order.
  This issue has been brought to my attention. I've expressed concerns 
myself as to how information is used. Certainly, we want to make sure 
that we're very careful as far as privacy issues in this country, the 
way that these things may be used for purposes that no one quite 
understands or intended to have happen.
  While I share your concerns, for consistency reasons here, I must 
insist on my point of order.
  I yield to the gentleman from Massachusetts, the ranking member.

[[Page H4144]]

  Mr. OLVER. I will be very brief.
  I serve on the Homeland Security Subcommittee for Appropriations, and 
I don't think that the Homeland Security authorizers have done anything 
along these lines, and that's where it really ought to be dealt with, I 
would think.
  So I will agree with what you're doing.
  Mr. BURGESS. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. LATHAM. I would be more than happy to yield to the gentleman from 
  Mr. BURGESS. Here is the problem.
  It was a simple line in the FAA reauthorization bill. We were all 
happy when we reauthorized the FAA. It hadn't been done in some 26 
attempts--``the dog ate my homework,'' we got IOUs and extensions on 
the FAA. But then here was this very simple language allowing for the 
expansion of unmanned aerial vehicles in the national airspace. None of 
us really thought that was much of a problem, but our constituents are 
bringing it back to us. They are concerned about privacy, and they're 
concerned about Federal agencies surveilling normal activities of 
commerce in which people may be engaged. But then we have gone one step 
  If these drones are weaponized, you can--if you've been surveilled 
unfairly, you can go to court and perhaps seek a remedy. But if a 
bullet is fired from one of these platforms, you don't have any remedy 
if you're the recipient of that bullet.
  All I'm asking is that we take all due care and caution, and exercise 
all due care and caution. We are entering a Brave New World here, and 
it is incumbent upon every one of us to be certain we do so with all 
care and caution before we proceed.
  I appreciate the gentleman allowing me to express my thoughts on this 
amendment. I wish it could stand. I wish we could vote on it this 
evening. I understand for consistency why he is insisting on his point 
of order. But we're going to have to revisit this.
  H.R. 5950 is standalone legislation that would prohibit this 
activity. I encourage Members of Congress to look into cosponsoring 

                              {time}  2140

  Mr. LATHAM. Reclaiming my time, let me just say, in the authorization 
of the FAA, their specific role was air traffic concerns that they may 
have safety concerns, collisions with other aircraft. I agree with the 
gentleman, it should probably be a Homeland Security issue. I also 
serve on the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations. It has 
not been brought up in that.
  I do share your concerns. But unfortunately, I must insist on my 
point of order.

                             Point of Order

  Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I make a point of order against the 
amendment because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes 
legislation in an appropriation bill and, therefore, violates clause 2 
of rule XXI.
  The rule states in pertinent part: ``An amendment to a general 
appropriation bill shall not be in order if changing existing law.'' 
The amendment imposes additional duties and requires a new 
  I ask for a ruling of the Chair.
  The Acting CHAIR. Does any Member wish to be heard on the point of 
  If not, the Chair is prepared to rule.
  The Chair finds that this amendment includes language requiring a new 
determination regarding the end use of certain aircraft systems and 
their components. The amendment, therefore, constitutes legislation in 
violation of clause 2 of rule XXI.
  The point of order is sustained, and the amendment is not in order.