Last week, the drone lobby won perhaps one of its most important legislative victories. The Federal Aviation Authority funding bill contained a provision that opens up America’s skies to domestic drones. The expansion will allow both commercial and law enforcement groups to begin using drones throughout the United States. According to the agency, within eight years, the public can expect 30,000 drones patrolling above us.

The bipartisan legislative victory is a watershed moment for major drone manufacturers, including General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. But it is also an important win for a trade group specifically set up to enact pro-drone policy changes. The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems, a private lobbying federation made up of drone companies, recently expanded its operation, even setting up a congressional pro-drone caucus headed by Reps. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

An analysis by the Republic Report finds that the drone industry group even doubled its lobbying expenses from 2010 to 2011:

In addition, major manufacturers like Northrup Grumman spent tens of millions lobbying last year. These lobbying expenditures covered the FAA drone expansion law, but also encompassed other military related legislative items, making a more comprehensive look at drone lobby spending more difficult to pin down.

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Filed under: Lobbying

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