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Saturday, February 19, 2011

$ 2,1 million to U.S. Congress Promoters of Unmanned Systems

The US Defense Budget for 2012 continues strong funding for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) with $4.8 billion. This means jobs in the U.S. defense industry and saving lives of U.S. war fighters. One of the most influential promoters of Unmanned Systems in the U.S. is the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus (USC), originally formed as the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Caucus in 2009. USC is a bipartisan group of 32 Republican and 10 Democrat members of the U.S. Congress, committed to the growth and expansion of unmanned systems in defense,  intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security and science. USC defines its mission "to educate members of Congress and the public on the strategic, tactical, and scientific value of unmanned systems; actively support further development and acquisition of more systems, and more effectively engage the civilian aviation community on unmanned system use and safety."
Infonaut/GRB2011: Members of the U.S. Unmanned Systems Caucus (Dem=blue, Rep=red)
Co-Chairs of the USC are Republican Congressman Buck McKeon and Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar. McKeon is representative for California’s 25th District that holds several military locations, including Fort Irwin, Edwards Air Force Base, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, and the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center. McKeon is also the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, ASC, who influence military policy and have the power to create demand for this industry's commodities. 11 of the USC members are also members of the ASC.

2,1 Million Defense Industry Donations
The hundreds of billions of dollars the federal government spends each year on defense are part of the reason defense firms invest millions of dollars in lobbying activities and campaign contributions. Defense companies concentrate their political donations on members of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees that allocate federal defense money. 
According to data from The Center for Responsive Politics, CRP, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics and the effect of money and lobbying activity on elections and public policy, the defense sector has spend about $ 139 Million in 2010 on lobbying. The sector includes defense aerospace, defense electronics and other miscellaneous defense companies. The sector’s biggest companies include Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics, as well as Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. In 2010, more than 1.000 lobbyists represented about 300 clients.
Defense Campaign Donations 2009-2010 
According to data from the Senate Office of Public Records and CRP 29 USC members of 42 have received  about $ 2,1 million from defence industry during the 2009-2010 campaign. The top 3 recipients, 2009-2010 are Co-Chair Buck McKeon R-CA) $322.900, Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) $ 172.900 and Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) $128.850.
See also: The House Ethical Rules  and White House fact sheet about special interests reform. 

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