House Unites To Condemn China Over Suspected Spy Balloon
Rep. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) speaks during a press conference on the State of the Union speech to be delivered by U.S. President Joe Biden later this evening on March 01, 2022 in Washington, DC. Ukrainian born Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) delivered an emotional appeal for further U.S. support for Ukraine during the press conference.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution Thursday to formally rebuke China over a suspected spy balloon that flew over the United States last week.

In a 419-0 vote, Republicans and Democrats united to condemn the Chinese Communist Party for a “brazen violation of United States sovereignty.” Fifteen members did not vote, including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

The resolution also calls on the Biden administration to “continue to keep Congress apprised” by providing briefings, including about what surveillance data China might have been able to collect and what plans it has to deter future intelligence collection operations by any foreign adversary.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the resolution.

North American Aerospace Defense Command started tracking the balloon on January 28, prior to it entering U.S. airspace, the resolution noted. The vessel managed to travel near sensitive U.S. national security facilities, including an Air Force base in Montana, but the Pentagon refused to shoot it down as it hovered over the country, concerned about the danger of falling debris.

The U.S. Air Force shot down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina over the weekend, after which the Navy oversaw a salvage operation.

Though Republicans have criticized the administration for not being more proactive in stopping the balloon, President Joe Biden talked tough about standing up to China during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. “If China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did,” he said.

The Defense Department says the balloon was being used by the Chinese Communist Party in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the United States. China denies the vessel was a spy balloon, instead claiming it was a weather balloon that was blown off course.

“All of our strategic assets — we were, made sure that we were buttoned down and movement was limited and communications were limited so that we didn’t expose any capability unnecessarily,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CBS News.

Defense officials have divulged in recent days that other suspected Chinese balloons have previously been spotted near Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and Guam.

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