Frustrated lawmakers demand answers on UFOs

Senior lawmakers are increasingly demanding that military and other government officials provide them with information about intelligence on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs).

The demands reflect frustrations on the part of some lawmakers that they are being kept in the dark about what’s known about UFOs and UAPs.

The lawmakers do not necessarily believe the government is hiding signs of extraterrestrial life from the public and congressional oversight. But they are frustrated they are not learning more about unknown objects flying in restricted U.S. air space.

“My primary interest in this topic is if there are … object[s] operating over restricted air space, it’s not ours and we don’t know whose it is, that’s a problem that we need to get to the bottom of,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“If there’s an explanation for it that’s being kept from Congress, then we need to force the issue. We’re not getting answers,” Rubio told The Hill.  

The Senate has adopted an amendment to an annual defense bill that would require the federal government to collect and disclose all records related to UFOs and UAPs unless a special review board determines they must be kept classified.  

The amendment was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, and is backed by Rubio and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats, as well as Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a former Marine intelligence officer, and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).  

Rubio, the top-ranking Republican on the intelligence committee, has more access to classified information than the vast majority of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He said he suspects there are records related to unidentified aerial phenomena that are being kept secret from congressional oversight.  

“Right now, what I know is reliable people tell us that and we’ve seen objects operating over restricted military and national security airspace. They claim it’s not ours. They claim they don’t know whose it is. That’s like the definition of a national security threat,” he said.  

“Either there’s an answer that exists and is not being provided, or there is no answer. Beyond that, I don’t want to speculate anything,” he added. 

Rubio said he was familiar with the claims of David Grusch, a career intelligence officer who worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He claims the federal government has retrieved “non-human origin technical vehicles” that have landed or crashed on Earth.  

“We have a number of people including that gentleman who have come forward both publicly and privately to make claims,” Rubio said.  

“One of two things are true. Either A, they’re telling the truth or some version of the truth or B, we have a bunch of people with high clearances and really important jobs in our government are nuts. Both are a problem. And I’m not accusing these people of being nuts. That said, that’s something we’ll look at and continue to look at seriously,” he said.  

Interest in the subject is also reflected by this week’s House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday on UAPs and UFOs.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), who is chairing the hearing, says lawmakers will hear testimony from Grusch, as well as former Navy Cmdr. David Fravor and former Navy pilot Ryan Graves.  

Burchett claimed on a podcast this month that the federal government has known about UFOs for decades and “they can fly underwater and don’t show a heat trail,” appearing to defy the laws of physics.  

Congressional sources familiar with efforts to gain more information from the Defense Department and intelligence agencies say UAPs and UFOs are being detected more frequently because of improvements in military sensor technology.  

The Department of Defense released three Navy videos in 2020 that show objects flying in extraordinary ways and capturing confused and awe-struck comments of Naval aviators who witnessed the phenomena.  

Grusch, who describes himself as a whistleblower, says senior intelligence officers have told him they participated in a secret UAP task force, though he says he has not personally witnessed nonhuman intelligence. He says he was retaliated against when he tried to gain more information about the program.  

Rubio said “we don’t know” if such a program exists and what evidence it might have collected. 

“Without speculating or adding to intrigue about this whole topic, there’s no doubt that in this field, generally, there’s more than what we know,” he said. “We’re trying to get to a process where at least some people in Congress do know.” 

Asked why he suspects there’s more for Congress to know about UAPs, Rubio said “there’s pieces of puzzles that don’t fit.” 

“Most certainly there are elements of things, whether historic or current, that potentially Congress has not been kept fully informed of — and that would be a problem,” he said. “There’s really no function of the executive that shouldn’t require congressional oversight at some level.” 

The language in the Senate defense bill would require the National Archives and Records Administration to create a collection of records related to UAPs across government agencies that would be declassified for public use. 

“UAPs generate a lot of curiosity for many Americans, and with that curiosity sometimes comes misinformation,” Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor.  

Most lawmakers are extremely reluctant to say they suspect aliens from other solar systems are visiting Earth because there isn’t any undisputable evidence of such visits in the public domain. 

Also, the nearest star to planet Earth is 40,000 billion kilometers away, making it seem impossible that any alien craft could travel the distance necessary to span solar systems. The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is so far away that it would take the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which travels at 17.3 km per second, 73,000 years to reach it, according to NASA.  

It’s also hard to fathom that a foreign adversary such as China possesses such advanced technology that it can fly aerial vehicles in ways that appear to defy the laws of physics, as U.S. military personnel have observed of UFOs or UAPs.  

Rounds said he has seen “no evidence personally” that extraterrestrial craft are visiting the planet but said, “I know that there’s a lot of people that have questions about it.” 

“It’s just like with JFK and the [1963] assassination. We set up separate archive for that or central collection place for all that data, which I think gave the American people a sense of security that there was a location where it was being held. This is following that same approach,” he said.  

The White House announced late last month that the National Archives had concluded its review of documents related to the assassination of former President Kennedy and that 99 percent of the relevant records had been made publicly available.

Asked about whether he personally believes military personnel and sensors are encountering extraterrestrial visitors, Rounds said: “I don’t think you can discount the possibility just simply because of the size of the universe.” 

“I don’t think anybody should say that they know for certain either way,” he said. “If we simply refuse to acknowledge there’s even a remote possibility, then we’re probably not being honest.” 

“Some of the items we simply can’t explain,” he said of the Naval videos of UAPs.

Tuberville finds himself at center of storm on abortion, white nationalism

Editor’s note: Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) says she supports Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) hold on military promotions. A previous version of this story contained incorrect information. 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has placed himself at the center of a growing storm touching on abortion, the military and white nationalism, irritating colleagues and turning himself into a more high-profile political target.

The former Auburn University football coach turned first-term Alabama senator has annoyed fellow Republicans with a hold on military promotions, earning rare criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who loathes to publicly criticize a fellow GOP senator.

He then made his troubles worse by criticizing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a local NPR interview for wanting to get “the white extremists, the white nationalists” out of the military. Pressed on those remarks, Tuberville said he’d call white nationalists “Americans.” 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pounced on those comments from Tuberville, one of former President Trump’s most vocal advocates in the Senate, labeling them “revolting.”

“Does Sen. Tuberville honestly believe that our military is stronger with white nationalists in its ranks?” Schumer said. “I cannot believe this needs to be said, but white nationalism has no place in our armed forces and no place in any corner of American society, period, full stop, end of story.”

Abortion politics

Tuberville’s battle with the military is about the subject of abortion, an issue that has repeatedly helped Democrats in elections and hurt Republicans since the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Tuberville has effectively blocked promotions for roughly 200 senior military officials in key regions over the Pentagon’s abortion policy, which allows service members to take leave and provides travel reimbursements for those who need to travel to get an abortion. That is a more common need since the end of Roe.

Tuberville has said he would lift the holds in exchange for a vote on legislation to change the Pentagon policy, but Democratic senators have been unwilling to give in on that point. Tuberville said he would lift the holds even if his bill did not pass — a likelihood since it would need 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles.

“I find the senator’s approach to the men and women who are seeking advancement in our military to really be painfully wrong,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, when asked whether Democrats would be amenable to voting to end the Pentagon abortion policy.

McConnell has made it clear he opposes Tuberville’s holds.

“No, I don’t support putting a hold on military nominations,” McConnell told reporters last week in response to a question about Tuberville’s blockade. “I don’t support that. But as to why, you’ll have to ask Sen. Tuberville.”

The military promotions in question include those in NATO and in the Indo-Pacific and would usually be passed unanimously all together. Austin argued in a letter last week the hold is also detrimental to military families and imposes “needless additional stress” on them.

Wrong direction

At the heart of Tuberville’s arguments on abortion and in the white nationalism remarks is that the military is moving in the wrong direction, specifically on recruiting and readiness.

He is quick to note the Army missed its recruiting goal in 2022 by 25 percent and attributes that to the leftward lurch in recent years and an attempt to freeze out Trump backers. 

In seeking to clean up his remarks about white nationalism to the NPR station, Tuberville’s office said he was being skeptical of the notion that white nationalists were in the military, not that they should be in the military.

Later, however, in a separate interview with NPR, Tuberville said he considered someone who was a white nationalist to be a “Trump Republican” and a “MAGA person.”

Though some Republicans have opposed Tuberville’s holds, they are largely brushing off the Democratic criticisms of his remarks about white nationalism.

One Senate Republican told The Hill the one-two punch isn’t creating internal consternation for the GOP conference, adding the remarks last week are viewed as an “isolated event” and downplayed it as “one member acting on his own.” 

At the same time, the Senate Republican said Tuberville might want to rethink his strategy.

“If you use holds strategically and you focus on an agency, there’s no reason why he can’t pick and choose,” the Senate Republican said. “I think he’d be wise to just go back and just identify the agency that Austin’s inaction is going to end up having a problem with and just create a problem for that agency versus a [Department of Defense]-wide issue. That’s going to be hard to hold up over time.” 

“That really should have been the way he went into it to begin with,” the Senate GOP member added.


Tuberville, despite the controversies, is well-liked by his conference. Commonly referred to around the Capitol as “coach,” Tuberville is seen frequently back-slapping colleagues before and after votes. Many Republicans see him as taking action with the holds that are well within his senatorial powers, regardless of whether they agree with him. 

“[Tuberville’s] serious about this. He’s very serious. It’s not just some show that’s going on,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a fellow member of the Armed Services Committee who supports his hold though she has previously said it isn't necessarily the tactic she'd use.

His long-standing hold even has support in some corners of GOP leadership. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a McConnell ally, told reporters earlier this week the opposition is warranted. 

“One of the biggest problems around here is people aren’t held accountable when they overstep their authority,” Cornyn said, referring to the Pentagon. “I regret that it’s necessary, but I think it is.”

For now, how to end Tuberville’s hold remains very much in question to members of both parties as the senator said earlier this week “nothing” will push him to compromise on the situation, short of the Pentagon reversing its policy.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Hill Tuberville should end his hold and instead seek an amendment vote on the issue via the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

However, Tuberville told reporters earlier this week he doesn’t want to hold the NDAA up with this ongoing push and added he wasn’t interested in a handshake deal with the Biden administration and Democratic leaders on the matter.

“They did that with [Sen. Joe Manchin], and they lied to him,” Tuberville said, pointing to Manchin’s attempt to get permitting reform attached to last year’s NDAA. 

The abortion issue is also creating political headaches back home for Tuberville as the Biden administration may nix plans for the U.S. Space Command’s headquarters to move from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Huntsville, Ala. Multiple reports indicate the issue, headlined by the state’s restrictive law that bans nearly abortions, is at the heart of the potential decision.

“It’s not something that’s gone over super well [in the state],” one Alabama GOP source told The Hill, noting that is especially the case in Huntsville, where 10,000 jobs could be impacted. 

Other Senate Republicans believe that if Democrats accede to Tuberville’s request for a vote on the Pentagon policy to end the hold, it’s not out of the question that another GOP member could fill his void and announce a blockade of their own. 

“I’m not sure there aren’t other Republicans who would be more than happy to step in, particularly from strong pro-life places and say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m putting a hold on all these rascals until they change this policy,’” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said.  

As of this week, Tuberville told The Hill he has yet to hear from anyone on the other side of the aisle about reaching a resolution. Instead, Democrats this week launched another effort to advance the horde of military promotions via unanimous request. 

“I will come to the floor as many times as possible,” Tuberville said on the floor. “To this point, I hope I’ve been clear. I’ve laid out the conditions for my holds and when I will drop my holds. These conditions have not been met, and I will not drop this hold until they are met.”

McCarthy’s Tucker Carlson decision ‘despicable,’ says Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said that Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) decision to share security footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol exclusively with Fox News host Tucker Carlson was “despicable” and damaging to security.  

Asked whether he would share the security footage of the attack, some of which was aired publicly during former President Trump’s 2021 impeachment hearing and during the hearings of the House select Jan. 6 committee, he said it would need to be reviewed by experts.  

“Look, I think what McCarthy did was despicable, damaged our security,” Schumer said of his House Republican counterpart. “Certainly … when he listens to a small group of the MAGA right, he’s going to run into trouble himself.” 

“As for releasing it, security has to be the No. 1 concern,” he said.  

McCarthy decided last week to grant Carlson access to all of the Capitol’s security footage from Jan. 6, sparking widespread controversy given Carlson’s work on a 2021 documentary series that framed the attack on the Capitol as a “false flag” operation intended to turn public opinion against former President Trump and his supporters.  

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday dodged a question about whether he agreed with McCarthy’s decision to share sensitive footage with Carlson, who entertained Trump’s claims of a stolen election on his show while privately expressing extreme skepticism about them.  

“Going back to when Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] was Speaker, my main concern is the security of the Capitol,” the GOP leader said tersely.  

Asked if sharing the footage may compromise Capitol security, McConnell reiterated “security of the Capitol,” which he said “was obviously severely threatened on Jan. 6” was his top concern.  

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), the chair of the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight, said Tuesday that footage from Jan. 6 would be subject to a security review before going to Fox News.  

“It’s basically controlled access to be able to view tapes. Can’t record, can’t take anything with you. Then they will request any particular clips that — that they may need, and then we’ll make sure that there’s nothing sensitive, nothing classified — you know, escape routes,” Loudermilk said in response to a question from The Hill. 

Emily Brooks contributed.