The Chinese surveillance balloon that made its way across parts of the U.S. last week before being shot down is sure to lead the conversation on Capitol Hill this week.
President Biden is set to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night and is likely reworking portions of his speech that mention China. Earlier that same day, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a previously scheduled hearing about the threat from China.
“The White House must provide answers about why they decided to allow a CCP spy balloon to cross the United States and what damage to our national security occurred from this decision,” House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a statement. “The United States must project strength to deter China – this failure is another example of weakness by the Biden administration.”
The administration said it closely monitored the balloon, that the balloon didn’t pose a military or physical threat, and that DOD waited until the balloon was offshore before shooting it down most safely.
“Shooting the balloon down addressed the surveillance threat posed to military installations and further neutralized any intelligence value it could have produced, preventing it from returning to the PRC,” a senior defense official told reporters, according to a transcript. “In addition, shooting the balloon down could enable the U.S. to recover sensitive PRC equipment.”
The New York Times published a detailed timeline of the balloon’s path across the U.S. before airmen from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia shot the balloon down off the South Carolina Coast.
AP photo by Brian Branch