Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik introduced the Drones for First Responders (DFR) Act to implement a new tariff on Communist Chinese-controlled drones and use the tariff revenue to establish a new grant program to help first responders, critical infrastructure providers, and farmers, purchase secure drones. This legislation will increase the competitiveness of U.S. drone manufacturers and enhance U.S. national security. 

Currently, 90% of drones operated by U.S. first responders are made in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Communist China has used aggressive subsidies, direct government investment, and favorable regulations to dominate the global drone market and undercut U.S. drone manufacturers. These unfair trade practices have allowed CCP-controlled drone companies to monopolize the U.S. drone market.

The Department of Defense has twice certified that PRC-based drone manufacturer, DJI, is actively advancing the PRC military’s capabilities and prohibits the U.S. military from operating PRC-drones. Additionally, a 2017 Homeland Security Intelligence Bulletin and a 2024 CISA industry alert state that PRC drones present significant risks to U.S. critical infrastructure and national security.

“I am proud to introduce the Drones for First Responders Act to stop the CCP’s influence over our nation and increase the competitiveness of U.S. drone manufacturers by establishing a revenue neutral grant program to help Americans purchase drones securely made by the U.S. and our allies,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “With this legislation, American drone manufacturers will be able to compete with Communist Chinese-controlled drones and enhance U.S. national security.”

“Chinese drones pose an unacceptable surveillance risk,” said Chairman Moolenaar. “I am proud to co-sponsor Rep. Stefanik’s legislation to help American first responders transition from foreign adversary drone technology to American made equipment as soon as possible.” 

“The United States should not be reliant on Communist China for drones that are critical to our nation’s first responder operations,” said Congressman Rob Wittman. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Drones for First Responders Act to enable our first responders to purchase secure drones, increase the competitiveness of American drone manufacturers, and enhance U.S. national security. We simply cannot cede control of the drone market to the Chinese Communist Party.”

"A strong U.S. drone manufacturing industrial base represents a strategic imperative for the U.S. We can, and must, do more to bolster drone security for end users while supporting U.S. values, aviation leadership, and investments in manufacturing jobs. Grant programs are a common-sense mechanism for getting secure, capable drones into the hands of public safety, critical infrastructure, and agriculture applications, and with the DFR Act's revenue raising measure, the grants are at no additional cost to the taxpayer. AUVSI is grateful for Representative Stefanik's leadership on this issue and is proud to support the DFR Act. We challenge Congress pass the DFR Act and to then build off this momentum and pursue additional demand signals that will further kickstart the flywheel for U.S. innovation and manufacturing in the drone space," said Michael Robbins, President and CEO of the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

"Phasing-in tariffs tied with subsidies to incubate new manufacturing industries is precisely the kind of policy Congress should be embracing,” said Michael Stumo CEO of the Coalition for A Prosperous America.

Specifically, the Drones for First Responders Act will:

  • Impose new incrementally increasing tariffs on PRC drones starting at 30% and increasing by 5% annually
  • Establish a new grant program for first responders, critical infrastructure providers, and farmers and ranchers to purchase secure drones that are manufactured and assembled in the U.S. or allied countries
  • Establish a strengthened rule of origin to require that drones imported to the U.S. not contain critical components that are made in the PRC by 2030.

Read the full text of the bill here.

Rep. Stefanik was joined by Select Committee on China Chairman John Moolenaar (R-MI) and Reps. Rob Wittman (R-VA), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), and Jim Banks (R-IN).

In March 2024, the bipartisan Countering CCP Drones Act introduced by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik advanced through the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously. Passage during this markup sets this bill up for consideration on the House floor.

In March, Fox News reported that Congresswoman Stefanik criticized former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for lobbying the Department of Defense working on behalf of a Communist Chinese drone company.

In January 2024, Congresswoman Stefanik released a statement with Select Committee on the CCP Chairman Mike Gallagher demanding that Communist Chinese drones be banned from the United States. This came after the release of the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) report detailing how Communist Chinese drones are actively spying on America’s critical infrastructure and present a legitimate national security threat.

In November 2023, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik joined Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition with the Chinese Communist Party and bipartisan lawmakers in a letter urging the Biden administration to open investigations into Autel Robotics, a PRC drone manufacturer.