Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ripped President Joe Biden on Sunday over the administration’s allowing a Chinese spy balloon to float across the country last week.
The military finally deployed an F-22 Raptor Saturday to shoot the balloon out of the sky over the coastal waters of South Carolina. McConnell said the White House, as usual, reacted “indecisively and then too late.”
Whether it’s spy balloons or spy satellites, China’s military modernization effort is no joke. I hope President Biden’s belated decision to finally do the right thing carries over into a more serious approach to America’s top adversary. My full statement: https://t.co/fli9tLbe5v
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) February 5, 2023
The Republican leader said the administration was wrong to allow Beijing to “make a mockery of our airspace.” He called into question the notion that there was not a good place between the Aleutian Islands and the Atlantic Ocean where the balloon could safely be brought down.
That observation followed Biden’s assertion that he ordered the Pentagon to shoot down the spy balloon as quickly as possible. The White House claimed that safety precautions precluded the action from being taken until it was off the coast of South Carolina.
McConnell declared the incident to be a display of the “brazenness” of the People’s Republic. He also decried it as a missed opportunity for the U.S. to “send a message of strength, and bolster deterrence.”
He joined the chorus of criticism over the White House inaction by noting that there are now multiple reports of Chinese spy balloons operating in the hemisphere.
McConnell said the situation calls for working with allies and partners to combat “Chinese espionage.”
Then he carried the criticism over to Biden’s coming budget request. The spy balloon debacle offered glaring proof that Chinese military modernization is “no joke” and must be reckoned with.
McConnell also pointed back towards last year’s budget proposal from the White House. That highly-criticized document actually lowered the defense budget when inflation was accounted for, something that is indefensible given the current climate.
McConnell’s criticism came as Republicans continued to question the delayed federal reaction to the obvious national security breach. Many wonder if the action would have even been taken had not word of the spy balloon’s presence leaked out to the American public.
What is known is that the administration waited days and allowed the craft to float across very sensitive military installations. And while a show of strength was called for, none was delivered by the White House.