Rep. Tim Burchett, one of Capitol Hill’s loudest voices for increased government transparency around UFOs, sits on the House Oversight Committee, where Republicans have pushed to host a hearing next Wednesday on the recent rise in reports of UFOs. | Francis Chung/POLITICO
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) said he is 100% sure that the federal government is covering up documents about UFOs — and he’s not alone among members of Congress in trying to push for more information about what could be out there.
“We’ve requested documents, we’ve gone to interview pilots and been stonewalled by our Pentagon. It’s ridiculous, it’s been going on since the ‘40s,” Burchett said Saturday afternoon on Fox News. “We are taking the gloves off.”
Public interest in the possibility of extraterrestrial life, officially labeled as unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) in government circles, has bubbled for decades — often fraught with conspiracies — and seen a recent resurgence. Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have ramped up their efforts for greater disclosures to allow Americans to better understand the phenomenon.
Burchett, one of Capitol Hill’s loudest voices for increased government transparency around UFOs, sits on the House Oversight Committee, where Republicans have pushed to host a long-anticipated hearing next Wednesday on the recent rise in reports of UFOs. The Pentagon has been investigating that trend since at least April. It said then that no proof of alien life had surfaced.
The Oversight hearing next week will feature David Grusch, a former intelligence employee who claimed in June that the government had a secret UFO recovery program that found a “partially intact craft of non-human remains.” While at least one Democrat has helped Republican colleagues push the issue, members say they have faced pushback from different corners and seen witnesses drop out.
Bolstering the transparency effort is a bipartisan charge on the other side of the Capitol led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has pushed legislation that would lead to the declassification of documents on the matter. The bill would amend the annual defense authorization to mandate government agencies to collect and submit records on UFOs to a review board within 300 days.
“The American public has a right to learn about technologies of unknown origins, non-human intelligence, and unexplainable phenomena,” Schumer said of the legislation in a release. “We are not only working to declassify what the government has previously learned about these phenomena but to create a pipeline for future research to be made public.”
Schumer’s legislation has echoes of a 1992 law that declassified documents around former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination — another event that had garnered public interest and associated conspiracy theories — after 25 years.
As of April, the Pentagon was tracking around 650 incidents of unidentified aircraft — an increase from a January report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that recorded 510 cases. From that earlier report, 171 sightings appeared to demonstrate “unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities.”
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at the White House press briefing last Monday that the administration was taking the UFO issue seriously.
“The Pentagon has stood up an entire organization to help collate and coordinate the reporting and analysis of — of sightings of UAP across the military,” Kirby said. “Before that, there wasn’t really a coordinated, integrated effort to do that.
But Kirby’s comments have done nothing to assuage Burchett.
“They’re not telling the truth,” Burchett said Saturday. ”The hearings that they’ve had have been bogus.”