House lawmakers are reportedly considering rolling out a bipartisan resolution aimed at condemning China over its suspected surveillance balloon that was shot down by the United States on Feb. 3.
“We want it to be a bipartisan resolution about China, not about us fighting each other,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters Monday, The Hill reported. “It’s too important of an issue, you know. We want to stand strong together against China instead of having our internal fights.”
The Texas lawmaker added that he has already sent a draft resolution to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the panel, who has “made his comments” and the two were set to meet late on Monday to work through the bill.
The possible bipartisan resolution comes as China this week confirmed that another balloon that was spotted over Latin America this past weekend also belongs to the nation.
At a press conference on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Mao Ning said that “it has come to our attention that the vessel in question is from China,” but claimed that the balloon is intended for civilian use.
Ning added that the aircraft had “accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace” after being blown off course owing to the weather.
Spy Balloon Shot Down
U.S. jets shot down the first surveillance balloon at around 2:39 p.m. ET on Saturday after it was seen making its way across the Carolinas and approaching the Atlantic coast, according to defense officials.
An F-22 fighter jet fired a missile at the balloon, puncturing it while it was about six nautical miles off the coast near Myrtle Beach, where possible debris from the device has since reportedly been spotted.
Chinese officials have called the downing of the balloon “an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice,” and said that Beijing “reserves the right to take necessary measures to deal with similar situations.”
Beijing also claims the first balloon was a civilian meteorological balloon that had been blown off course and just happened to fly over sensitive military sights.
However, Washington officials have said the balloon was likely conducting surveillance, although they’ve stopped short of stating exactly which sites the Chinese balloon allegedly surveyed.
While Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reports that President Joe Biden had on Wednesday given his authorization to take down the suspected surveillance balloon as soon as possible without putting American lives at risk, some Republican lawmakers have criticized the president for failing to act sooner.
Shortly after the balloon was shot down, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement saying that the Biden administration reacted “at first too indecisively and then too late.”
Republicans Take Aim at Biden’s Response
“We should not have let the People’s Republic of China [PRC] make a mockery of our airspace,” McConnell said. “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.”
Other Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also took aim at the administration’s failure to act promptly.
Despite their criticism of Biden’s response to China’s alleged surveillance, the bipartisan resolution is not expected to be aimed at Biden’s actions.
“Clearly, we’re focused on condemning China for sending a spy balloon into United States territory. Obviously, we have a lot more questions about what happened and when the administration knew it,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Monday.
“Those are separate questions going on, and we need to have a briefing on it. But in the meantime, we’re trying to get an agreement with the committees working on the proposal,” he added.
Separately, Meeks said that Democrats were open to cooperation on the resolution.
“We’re looking at it. They’ve got something, and there’s a dialogue going on. So, we’ll see what happens,” Meeks said.
From The Epoch Times