LAS VEGAS (MYSTERYWIRE) — A bipartisan effort in Congress to create a new and permanent program to study UFO incidents picked up steam in Washington this week. Members of Congress had already written language into the massive defense authorization bill that would require Pentagon agencies to fully investigate encounters between the U.S. military and unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs.

Now, however, a new wrinkle has been added. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced an amendment that would greatly expand the parameters for a future investigation. Gillibrand’s amendment would require the Department of Defense to look far beyond unidentified objects in the sky. Sen. Gillibrand would also require investigations into other possible consequences of close encounter incidents, including health effects on humans.  

Today, Gillibrand’s amendment drew support from other well-known lawmakers, including Republican U.S Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio and others signed on as co-sponsors for the Gillibrand language.

“And I’ll tell you the new star in my universe is, you know, is the head of NASA because you know Bill Nelson, a former astronaut, former senator, is the only person actually willing to say well, it might be ET,” said author and screenwriter Bryce Zabel.

One observer who is greatly encouraged by the news from Capitol Hill is veteran reporter and writer Bryce Zabel, who told Mystery Wire he’s never seen a point at which “there’s more things breaking” on the UFO front. Zabel thinks the current debate in Congress represents a major step forward in understanding the UFO mystery. He wants Congress to hold the Pentagon’s feet to the fire, in particular, the U.S. Air Force, which previously managed three earlier military investigations into UFOs, including the infamous Project Blue Book. The Air Force has been notably quiet on UFO matters during the past three years.

“I hope the next step after these things is people like Gillibrand or the Senate Intel Committee start hauling Air Force people in and saying, why didn’t you cooperate? You know what is your assessment? Where is your information? I think we need a few good senators and congresspeople to kick the can here and find out what’s up,” Zabel said.

Zabel was an investigative reporter for CNN, then transitioned into being a television producer and screenwriter. He created a critically acclaimed UFO-themed TV series “Dark Skies”, was part of director Steven Spielberg’s team in the production of a multi-part series “Taken”, which focused on alleged alien abductions, and co-wrote a far-reaching assessment of how humans might react if the government spills all of its UFO-related secrets, a book titled “A.D. After Disclosure: When the Government Finally Reveals the Truth About Alien Contact.”

READ: Online biography on Bryce Zabel

Mystery Wire also asked Zabel to comment on another high-profile UFO-related event staged last week in Washington D.C. at the National Cathedral. The forum “Our Future in Space” heard from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, billionaire space entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, and former astronaut and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, now the head of NASA. Bezos said he doubts that any non-terrestrial craft has visited Earth. While Haines said we have to at least keep that possibility open, while Nelson seemed much more open to the idea that extraterrestrial intelligence is out there somewhere. 

“I’ll tell you, the new star in my universe is the head of NASA,” Zabel told Mystery Wire, “because  Bill Nelson, a former astronaut, former senator, is the only person actually willing to say it might be ET.”

Zabel shared his thoughts on other current UFO developments in a wide-ranging interview with Mystery Wire that also touched on his fascination with the Beatles.