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HR 2864, What It Is and Why It’s Important

A Bill with Far-Reaching Implications for the Drone Industry

HR 2864, also known as the Countering CCP Drones Act, is a piece of legislation currently under consideration in the United States Congress. This bill aims to address concerns regarding national security and data privacy by restricting the use of drones manufactured by companies tied to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). While the intention behind the bill is to safeguard national interests, it has sparked heated debate and raised questions about its potential impact on various industries.

Understanding HR 2864

The core provisions of HR 2864 include:

  • Prohibition on Federal Purchases: The bill seeks to prohibit federal agencies from purchasing or using drones manufactured by companies with ties to the CCP. This restriction would apply to a wide range of federal entities, including law enforcement, emergency services, research institutions, and critically… aerial applicators.
  • Restrictions on Federal Funding: HR 2864 also proposes restrictions on federal funding for state and local entities that use drones from CCP-linked manufacturers. This could have a significant impact on public safety agencies that rely on drones for various operations, such as search and rescue, firefighting, and infrastructure inspection.
  • Data Security Concerns: The bill highlights concerns about the potential for data collected by CCP-linked drones to be accessed by the Chinese government. This has raised alarms about the privacy and security of sensitive information.

Why HR 2864 Matters

The debate surrounding HR 2864 revolves around the balance between national security concerns and the practical implications of restricting drone technology.

Proponents of the bill argue that:

  • National Security: The bill is necessary to protect sensitive data and critical infrastructure from potential exploitation by the Chinese government.
  • Economic Concerns: Promoting domestic drone manufacturing would create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy.

Opponents of the bill argue that:

  • Impact on Entrepreneurship: Agriculture drones are revolutionizing how America feeds the world. Before graduation, agricultural students establish companies and bring this technology back to their farms and communities, enabling precision agriculture and improved crop health.
  • Innovation: The bill could hinder innovation in the drone industry and restrict access to cutting-edge technology. This could ultimately limit American farmers’ access to green technology, reduce crop yields, make pesticide application less efficient, and hinder crop health monitoring. This could result in farmers having to resort to less efficient and more expensive methods, impacting their bottom line.
  • Costly Transition: Replacing the current drone fleets are not a reasonable option since there are very few agriculture drones currently being manufactured in the U.S., and the ones that are manufactured here are substantially more expensive than their Chinese counterparts. Doing so would render the millions of dollars already invested in the technology useless.

The Road Ahead and Closing Thoughts

As HR 2864 continues to make its way through the legislative process, the debate over its merits and potential consequences will undoubtedly intensify. It’s crucial for stakeholders in the drone industry, public safety agencies, and the general public to stay informed about the bill’s progress and potential impact.

If passed, this bill could be devastating to people who have already invested time and money into starting a drone business. With that being said, there are many hurdles to clear before getting passed. Here is where we are and the next steps before passing into law.

  • What is the current status of the Bill: As of June 14th, the HR2864 bill got lumped into the National Defense Authorization Act NDAA FY25 and passed the House of Representatives by a narrow margin of 217 to 199.
  • What happens next: First, lobbying efforts are being launched by all major drone distributors, associations (U.PASS), and agencies like VT Insurance across the country to limit the impact on the voting power and what will actually be in the bill. There are efforts to exclude over 55lb drones as they do not pose national security threats by uploading data of our infrastructure. Most over 55lb drones are out in the rural areas where critical information is not as big of a concern.
  • Second: It will now have to go to the Democratically-controlled Senate 4-5 months before an election year. The chances of it getting passed this stage are not 0%, but it is less likely than if there were not partisanship at play. Having a Republican bill pass before an election would not be a great look for Democrats who are trying to put their best foot forward before the election.
  • Third: If the bill does pass through the Senate, the last stop on its journey before becoming law is to get signed by the current Democrat president, Joe Biden. This could be an issue if he is trying to be bipartisan to show he is playing ball with both sides; but to give another win to the Republicans before the election could come off as weak and give another push for momentum for Republicans going into the election.

In short, this is going to be an uphill battle to get this bill passed in the next few months as it currently stands. There are many factors at play, so we hope this sheds a positive light on the process this still has to go through before becoming a reality.

You can count on VT Insurance, major drone distributors, and U.Pass to advocate removing over 55lb drones from the bill through lobbying efforts; however, we need others who are concerned about the passage of this bill to write their congressmen and other lawmakers to help show support to stop this bill. We need you to tell them how this will hurt you, your families, and your livelihood if this passes into law. You can do so by going to the following links:

 

https://www.upass.foundation/getinvolvednow

 

Take Action

https://www.votervoice.net/iframes/DAA/Campaigns/111611/Respond

 

Whether HR 2864 is ultimately passed or not, it serves as a reminder of the growing importance of drones in various sectors and the complex challenges surrounding their regulation. It’s a conversation that will continue to shape the future of this rapidly evolving technology.

Stay tuned for further updates on HR 2864 and its implications for the drone industry.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Please consult with relevant professionals for guidance on specific situations.