A Senate Democrat is joining Republican colleagues in calling for an investigation into the suspected Chinese spy balloon currently hovering over the United States.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), chairman of the Senate’s Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that he would hold a hearing to get answers to questions about the balloon spotted over his home state Friday. The announcement follows similar outrage from multiple Republican senators from states over the balloon’s current flight path.
“Montanans value their freedom and privacy and I’ll always fight to defend both,” Tester said Friday. “China’s actions are a clear threat to those values and to America’s national security, and I’m demanding answers from the Biden Administration. I will be pulling people before my committee to get real answers on how this happened, and how we can prevent it from ever happening again.”
Earlier in the day, Tester issued a statement blasting the news of the balloon and calling for answers. “This provocation is completely unacceptable, and I am in close contact with Department of Defense and Intelligence officials. We are still waiting for real answers on how this happened and what steps the Administration took to protect our country, and I will hold everyone accountable until I get them. I will always defend Montana and our national security from hostile adversaries like China.”
Tester’s demand for answers comes amid a chorus of calls for answers from Republicans. First on Thursday, Tester’s Montana Senate colleague, Republican Steve Daines, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demanding a briefing on national security concerns.
“The fact that this balloon was occupying Montana airspace creates significant concern that Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB) and the United States’ intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fields are the target of this intelligence gathering mission,” Daines wrote. “Given the serious nature of the event, I am requesting a full security briefing from the administration on this situation. It is vital to establish the flight path of this balloon, any compromised U.S. national security assets, and all telecom or IT infrastructure on the ground within the U.S. that this spy-balloon was utilizing.”
Other senators issued statements on Twitter demanding answers, and above all, to shoot the balloon down.
“China invaded US airspace, & the Biden admin needs to take action to address this situation. Further delay is unacceptable,” Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) wrote on Twitter.
“I can confirm the Chinese spy ballon [sic] is over NE KS,” fellow Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) added. “My staff is in contact with law enforcement officials. I condemn any attempts the Chinese make to spy on Americans. President Biden must protect the sovereignty of the U.S. whether it’s our airspace or the southern border.”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) called for the Senate Homeland Security Committee to investigate. “The Homeland Security Committee needs to have public hearings NOW on the Chinese spy balloon – how did Biden let this happen? Major domestic security threat,” he tweeted.
And both Hawley and fellow Senator Eric Schmitt (R-MO) called for the balloon to be shot down. “I know I was just named to the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday but I’m going to go out on a limb and say we shouldn’t have a Chinese spy balloon floating over the United States of America. Take it down.”