And they are threatening to use heavier handed tactics if the Pentagon and intelligence agencies stand in their way.
Reps. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) want more information on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) — commonly referred to as UFOs — beginning with new laws, a classified hearing and the possible creation of a select committee.
The lawmakers said they are willing to use subpoena power if needed to get the answers they’re seeking from the federal government.
“If there’s not a cover up, the government and the Pentagon are sure spending a lot of resources to stop us from studying it,” Burchett told The Hill.
He added that they hope House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can aid them in setting up a select committee to study the issue of UAPs — as well as any government program that addresses them. If they don’t get leadership approval, they’ll “just start holding field hearings because the public is demanding that we have transparency,” Burchett said.
The effort comes after three former military officials earlier this week and under oath gave bombshell testimony on the unexplained aerial objects, telling lawmakers that for years they’ve been kept in the dark about the mysterious sightings and encounters.
David Grusch, a former Air Force intelligence officer, gave the most shocking testimony when he said he was told of a “multi-decade UAP crash retrieval and reverse-engineering program,” accusing the military of misdirecting funds to keep such operations secret.
The shocking testimony now has committee members questioning how Congress should begin to investigate the witness claims and demand more answers from the executive branch on programs it claims doesn’t exist.
Lawmakers hope to start with obtaining additional information and documents that Grusch said he submitted to the Pentagon’s inspector general after serving on two Defense Department task forces looking into UAPs.
To get the information from Grusch — who said he was unable to discuss specifics on what he told the Pentagon’s watchdog arm — lawmakers want to sit down with the former official in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) to get additional information from him.
The group has been blocked, however, by officials that have informed them that Grusch doesn’t currently have security clearance to discuss the issues in a SCIF, according to Burchett.
“I think we’ll get there eventually, it’s just frustrating. I’m ready to go and the American public are ready to go,” he said.
Luna argued the SCIF with Grusch would help lawmakers better understand the type of legislation they need to write regarding UAPs. She said she supports legislation that would declassify information on the phenomena.
With a growing amount of bipartisan interest for more government transparency surrounding the issue, a need for reporting procedures for UAP’s both in the miliary and commercial airspace, and “stronger and stricter punishment for those that try to silence whistleblowers,” the topic is more important than ever, she said.
There is currently a provision in the Senate’s version of the annual defense authorization bill, inserted by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), which would force federal government agencies to hand over UAP records to a review panel with the power to declassify them. The bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, was passed by the Senate on Thursday and now must be reconciled with the House’s version, so the initiative could still be stripped out.
Burchett also made an attempt to put an amendment into a Federal Aviation Administration bill to improve air travel, passed July 20, that would have required UAP sightings be reported to Congress. The initiative was blocked, which Luna said was an indication that “we clearly have a battle ahead of us.”
Another avenue for lawmakers should they not receive access to a SCIF would be invoking the Holman rule.
During Wednesday’s hearing Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) vowed to do just that, saying that he would “personally volunteer to initiate the Holman rule against any personnel, or any program, or any agency that denies access to Congress.”
The Holman rule is a House power through which they can strip the salary of a specific government position, fire civil servants or cut a particular program.
Ogles’s pledge came after Grusch told lawmakers that the federal government for decades has secretly funded a “UAP crash retrieval and reverse engineering program” and that he believes the government is in possession of non-human crafts, based on interviews with 40 witnesses.
Moskowitz told The Hill that while it’s too early to use the Holman rule — as Congress must first “figure out where these positions exist and then examine whether or not they should be funded” — he hopes that by discussing the rule it will create more transparency with the federal government.
“This is about government transparency. I’m all for protecting national security, but that can’t just be a shield to deny the American people the basics of what we know about UAPs,” he said.
And Burchett said if lawmakers “start getting stonewalled” by the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, he will have “no hesitation,” to invoke the rule.
Luna, meanwhile, said whether lawmakers use the rule depends on the response they receive from various agencies, programs and appointees.
That process could start as soon as September when lawmakers consider the Defense Appropriations bill on the House floor.
“We know that enormous sums of money are being spent on UAP related activity, whether it’s retrieval/recovery, research and reverse engineering, or just security for whatever the government is hiding,” she told The Hill. “But none of that is on the books, so from a basic governance perspective, Congress needs to know where money is being misappropriated.”
The Hill’s Sarakshi Rai contributed reporting.