Bipartisan bill pushes for increased U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation

The bill aims to address the growing threat of weaponized Iranian drones

Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iranian defence missiles and unmanned air vehicles are displayed an event marking the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, at the Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran, Iran, on February 11, 2023.

A bipartisan group of more than 40 lawmakers is expected to introduce legislation today that aims to combat the Iranian drone threat through increased cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.

The U.S.-Israel Anti-Killer Drone Act, the text of which was obtained by Jewish Insider, proposes increasing funding caps for existing U.S.-Israel counter-drone programs from $40 million to $55 million annually. It would also direct the defense secretary to report to Congress on the status of U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation and any additional funding or authorities that could assist such efforts, as well as the threat Iranian drones pose to the U.S. and Israel.

The bill is being sponsored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY). 

“Iran’s arsenal of killer drones has only grown in recent years, and attacks across the Middle East have killed and wounded Americans — showing once again why the threat of terrorism remains so pervasive. We continue to see Iran-backed terrorist groups target innocent civilians which is why we must take concrete action to counter their deadly drone capabilities. This legislation is about protecting American and Israeli lives,” Gottheimer said in a statement. “This bipartisan effort is vitally important to Israel’s security, our security, and America’s interests in the region. It’s key to our fight against terror.”

Garbarino added, “Time and again, the Iranian regime has used unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to continue its destabilizing behavior, threatening not only the broader Middle East region, but also American troops, interests, and our greatest ally in the region, Israel.”

The bill is cosponsored by 42 other lawmakers from both parties, and supported by FDD Action.

The bill’s text runs through a litany of incidents of Iranian and Iranian proxy drone attacks and attempted attacks on Israeli and U.S. partner targets throughout the region; the expansion and advancement of Iran’s drone production capacity; and Iran’s provision of drones to Russia.

It urges the U.S. to “enhance ongoing cooperation with Israel,” share information with Israel on Iranian drone systems and leverage the existing U.S.-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group to lead cooperative counter-drone efforts.

Other cosponsors include Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Dan Meuser (R-PA), David Joyce (R-OH), David Trone (D-MD), David Valadao (R-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Jared Golden (D-ME), Jason Smith (R-MO), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Nicholas LaLota (R-NY), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Scott Peters (D-CA), Thomas Kean (R-NJ), Wiley Nickel (D-NC), Don Bacon (R-NE), Jason Crow (D-CO), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Don Davis (D-NC), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), John James (R-MI), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Brian Mast (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Hillary Scholten (D-MI), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Susan Wild (D-PA), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Juan Ciscomani (D-AZ), Shri Thanedar (D-MI), and Brittany Pettersen (D-CO).

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