Drone Makers Push Congress to Move Up Domestic Deployment Date

The day of deployment is drawing nearer. Soon, thousands of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unmanned aerial vehicle license holders will launch their drones into the skies over the United States.

Despite the delay of lawmakers to establish constitutionally sound guidelines for the use of these eyes in the sky, a handful of congressmen are pushing to move forward the date of deployment.

Why would legislators — typically not the most hurry-happy group — be interested in accelerating the drive to permit civilian drone use?

Money.

A collaboration between Hearst Newspapers and the Center for Responsive Politics paints the pecuniary picture:

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….

And:

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.

The big winner of the drone manufacturer lobbying lotto was Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.). According to the investigation, McKeon — cochairman of the House Unmanned Systems Caucus — received $833,650 in contributions from the drone industry. 

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Government Spending is Sending us off the Cliff

by Ron Paul

As the year draws to an end, America faces yet another Congressionally-manufactured crisis which will likely end in yet another 11th hour compromise, resulting in more government growth touted as “saving” the economy. While cutting taxes is always a good idea, setting up a ticking time bomb with a sunset provision, as the Bush tax cuts did, is terrible policy. Congress should have just cut taxes. But instead, we have a crisis that is sure not to go to waste.

The hysteria surrounding the January 1 deadline for the Budget Control Act’s spending cuts and expiration of the Bush tax cuts seems all too familiar. Even the language is predictably hysterical: if government reduces planned spending increases by even a tiny amount, the economy will go over a “fiscal cliff.” This is nonsense.

This rhetoric is based on the belief that government spending sustains the economy, when in fact the opposite is true. Every dollar the government spends is a dollar taken from consumers, businessmen, or investors. Reducing spending can only help the economy by putting money back in the hands of ordinary Americans. Politicians who claim to support the free market and the lower and middle-class should take this to heart.

The reality is, however, that neither Republicans nor Democrats are serious about cutting spending. Even though U.S. military spending is exponentially larger than any other country and is notorious for its inefficiency and cost overruns, Republicans cannot seem to stomach even one penny of cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. This is unfortunate because this is the easiest, most obvious place to start getting spending under control. The military-industrial complex and unconstitutional overseas military interventions should be the first place we look for budget cuts.

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