Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) is on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference committee, which—on paper, at least—means he’s got a head seat at the table to fight for Senate-approved UAP provisions. In reality, over the past couple of weeks, as Republicans ground the the House of Representatives to a self-inflicted halt, he says it’s meant thumb twiddling.
While that means most all NDAA rumors are premature, Rounds—Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s lead co-sponsor on the UAP provision senators tucked into the sweeping defense measure while it wound itself through the Senate—says he’s going to fight for the Senate-passed UAP provisions to make it into the final measure.
“Look, the UAP thing, I think it's something that we want to be able to control and to have a long-term plan to be able to gather data,” Rounds exclusively tells Ask a Pol.
After pushing All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) director Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick at the end of July on increasing whistleblower protections, Rounds says he still isn’t convinced Kirkpatrick and the agency don’t need congressionally-sanctioned upheaval.
“I think the judgment, for me, is not yet decided on AARO,” Rounds, a former South Dakota governor, tells Ask a Pol.
Rounds is one of just 6 senators who serve on both the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees.
Has the former governor even seen the new UAP report from AARO?
“No,” Rounds replies, before adding, “I want to see more. I want to hear more. Good step, perhaps, but if you're declassifying things, then it means you're probably not giving a full readout.”
Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s interview with Sen. Mike Rounds, slightly edited for clarity.
Matt Laslo: “How you doing, sir?”
Mike Rounds: “Yeah. Yeah. How you doing?”
ML: “Just chatting with the chair, Mr. Warner.”
ML: “Well, I’m curious, do you know—have you heard anything about NDDA negotiations with the UAP provisions?”
ML: “Are you on the conference committee?”
ML: “I think I saw that.”
ML: “Did [NDAA] kind of take a backseat during the three week, like, Speaker-shutdown?”
MR: “I think lots of things took a backseat.”
ML: “Yeah. Because we haven’t really heard about it? Have you guys met?”
MR: “It’s a—look, the UAP thing, I think it's something that we want to be able to control. And to have a long-term plan to be able to gather data.”