Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed President Joe Biden in a statement Sunday after the president allowed a Chinese spy balloon to fly over the U.S. for several days last week.
McConnell’s statement comes after the U.S. military used an F-22 Raptor on Saturday to take out a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina using a single air-to-air A9X sidewinder missile that was fired at an altitude of approximately 58,000 feet.
“As usual when it comes to national defense and foreign policy, the Biden Administration reacted at first too indecisively and then too late,” McConnell said. “We should not have let the People’s Republic of China make a mockery of our airspace. It defies belief to suggest there was nowhere between the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and the coast of Carolina where this balloon could have been shot down right away without endangering Americans or Canadians. This was a reminder of the PRC’s brazenness and President Biden missed the opportunity to defend our sovereignty, send a message of strength, and bolster deterrence.”
The 80-year-old Kentucky Republican senator noted subsequent reports that have surfaced about Chinese spy balloons operating in other parts of the Americas and said that Biden needed to work with allies and partners to combat the threat of “brazen Chinese espionage.”
“I hope the President’s belated decision to finally do the right thing carries over into his soon-to-be-released annual budget request,” McConnell continued. “Whether it’s spy balloons or spy satellites, hypersonic weapons or stealth aircraft, massive naval construction or nuclear stockpile expansion, China’s military modernization effort is no joke. Last year President Biden proposed an absurd budget that would have cut defense funding after inflation. Let’s hope his budget proposal this year is more decisive, serious, and strong than the embarrassment that just played out in our skies.”
Fox News reported on Sunday that Biden administration officials believe that Chinese spy balloons flew over some parts of the U.S. under the Trump administration but cautioned that the Trump administration did not know about the incursions. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested that it was possible the Chinese spy balloons were only detected after Trump left the White House because the U.S. may have “only learned about them in retrospect by studying historical data.”