Hoeven: Senate Homeland Security Committee Advances Nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen for DHS Secretary

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after he joined a bipartisan majority of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in advancing the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as the Secretary of Homeland Security. During Nielsen’s confirmation hearing and in a meeting with the nominee, Hoeven highlighted the unique advantages of North Dakota’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry in developing solutions to improve the nation’s security, both at the borders and across the country. The senator extended an invitation to Nielsen to visit North Dakota when confirmed, which she accepted.

“We took a critical step in advancing Kirstjen Nielsen’s nomination this week, and she will be a welcome addition to DHS as the department continued its efforts to secure our nation’s borders and protect our country against modern threats,” said Hoeven. “I appreciate her commitment to visit North Dakota and to see firsthand the work and expertise of our state’s UAS industry, including Grand Sky and its tenants, the test site, the Grand Forks Air Force Base and our universities. The technology we are developing will play a vital role in the future of our nation’s security, and I look forward to demonstrating that to her following her confirmation by the full Senate. ”  

Hoeven is working to build on the past decade of efforts to ensure North Dakota leads in developing the future of the UAS industry. This includes low altitude beyond-line-of-flight applications, UAS detection/counter-UAS technologies and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) unmanned traffic management (UTM) system. The state is able to lead advancements in these areas due to two components Hoeven helped secure in recent years:

  • Authorization for the Northern Plains UAS Test Site to oversee UAS operations that go beyond the line of sight of the operator.
  • Upgrades for the DASR-11 digital radar systems at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and a similar system at Hector Field in Fargo. 

Further, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $8 million in Fiscal Year 2017 funding to ensure that CBP’s UAS operations and training facility would remain in Grand Forks. The CBP leased recently renovated space on the air base earlier this year.