Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell piled onto the criticism of President Biden Sunday over the delay in shooting down a Chinese spy balloon that crossed the U.S. from Alaska to the Carolinas before it was taken down over the Atlantic Ocean.
The Kentucky Republican argued that allowing the surveillance device from the foreign adversary to travel over several sensitive military sites was a sign of weakness.
“As usual when it comes to national defense and foreign policy, the Biden administration reacted at first too indecisively and then too late,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement. “We should not have let the People’s Republic of China make a mockery of our airspace.”
Mr. Biden said he directed the Pentagon to shoot it down as quickly as possible but with safety precautions in mind amid concerns about potential damage to property and lives from the wreckage.
That argument didn’t make sense, Mr. McConnell said.
“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,” he 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.”
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The criticism from Mr. McConnell comes as Republicans have hammered Mr. Biden over the delayed response and raised questions about what sort of intelligence China may have gathered from the operation.
The event also comes just days before Mr. Biden is set to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday and ahead of the president releasing his annual budget request.
“I hope the President’s belated decision to finally do the right thing carries over into his soon-to-be-released annual budget request. 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,” Mr. McConnell said. “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.”