All U.S. senators will receive a classified briefing about China on Feb. 15, following the Biden administration’s decision to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon off the Carolinas on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday.
The New York Democrat said he hasn’t seen the information from the Defense Department yet, but that briefings usually cover “where we stand with respect to China” regarding surveillance and military capabilities.
The Biden administration directed an F-22 Raptor to shoot down the balloon Saturday, after it drifted across the continent for days. President Joe Biden said he asked the Pentagon to down the balloon earlier in the week, but that they recommended he wait, citing safety concerns.
China tried to steer the balloon to leave the U.S. “as soon as they could” once information about the balloon was exposed to the public, a press release from Schumer’s office said.
At least three similar balloons went over “portions of the U.S.” during the Trump administration, the press release said, though there were conflicting reports Sunday as to whether that is true.
Schumer also praised the Biden administration’s choice to shoot down the balloon over water as both the safest option and “the one that maximized our intel gain.” The U.S. can now analyze the surviving military equipment in the balloon, Schumer said.
“Republican critics were breathless, political, and premature. President Biden and his team were calm, calculating and effective,” Schumer said.
Members of the GOP on Sunday jumped on Biden’s delay in shooting down the balloon as a sign of perceived weakness.