Defense bill creates new office to study UFOs

The final version of the annual defense policy bill will create a new office to study UFOs, Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandTlaib blasts Biden judicial nominee whose firm sued environmental lawyer The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Former aide says she felt 'abandoned' by Democrats who advanced Garcetti nomination as ambassador to India MORE (D-N.Y.) announced on Thursday.

An amendment introduced by Gillibrand and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators that will be included in the defense policy bill will replace the existing Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force and create an office administered both by the Defense Secretary and Director of National Intelligence. 

The office will be tasked with studying and responding to UFOs, or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) as referred to by the senators. 

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The office would have access to information regarding UFOs from the intelligence community and Defense Department so that it could help provide a “coordinated” response to these sightings, according to a release from Gillibrand's office. It would also delve into health impacts and possible national security concerns related to UFOs.

Additionally, the office would be required to provide an annual unclassified report on its activity to Congress, as well as biannual briefings to lawmakers that would be classified.

Among the amendment's co-sponsors are Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThere is a bipartisan path forward on election and voter protections These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Swalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down MORE (R-Mo.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  MORE (R-S.C.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPut partisan politics aside — The Child Tax Credit must be renewed immediately These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Fla.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats torn over pushing stolen-election narrative Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs MORE (D-N.M.). Gillibrand said she also worked with Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoHispanics sour on Biden and Democrats' agenda as midterms loom Gallego went to New York to meet Sinema donors amid talk of primary challenge: report Meeks leading bipartisan trip to Ukraine amid Russia tensions MORE (D-Ariz.) on the inclusion of the amendment in the defense policy bill.

“Our national security efforts rely on aerial supremacy and these phenomena present a challenge to our dominance over the air. Staying ahead of UAP sightings is critical to keeping our strategic edge and keeping our nation safe,” Gillibrand said in a statement. 

“The United States needs a coordinated effort to take control and understand whether these aerial phenomena belong to a foreign government or something else altogether,” she added.

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The announcement comes as the annual defense policy bill awaits a vote in the Senate after being passed by the House on Tuesday.

A report released in June by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence prompted interest in studying UFOs, as it detailed that 144 UFOs had been detected by the U.S. government since 2004 and nearly all of the cases were still unexplained.

The possibility of life outside of Earth was not mentioned in the report, but that possibility was also not ruled out in it.