RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s elected officials want answers regarding the Chinese balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina over the weekend.
On Wednesday, people began posting on social media after there were numerous reported sightings of a white balloon floating several thousand feet in the air. The Biden administration said the Chinese ‘spy’ balloon was being used for surveillance and that it entered United States airspace last week.
President Joe Biden authorized a missile strike Saturday to take down the balloon once it was over water near South Carolina. Military officials advised him that there was a risk of injury or damage to property if it was shot down over land. However, some Republicans argue that the balloon should have come down sooner.
While attending an event at Virginia Commonwealth University Monday, Republican Representative Rob Wittman told 8News that he’s disturbed by the incident.
“We knew that balloon as it came here, it was over an area that it could have been taken down without any sort of harm. For it to go over the United States entirely before we took it down over the Atlantic, I think those questions have to be answered,” he said.
Democrat Senator Tim Kaine said he thinks the administration’s actions were successful.
“I think the president did the right thing. He walled it off as best he could. He took it out as soon as he could safely do that. We got a lot of questions that we have to get answered obviously about this,” he said.
Wittman said debris is still being collected from the balloon so they can figure out what it was being used for.
“What happened over the weekend ought to be a wakeup call to all of us,” he said.
Chinese balloons flew over U.S. airspace before during the previous administration, according to a senior official from the Department of Defense.
“It’s just an example of the challenges that we have in the globe right now and why Rob’s position on the Select Committee that will look at competition between the United States and China is increasingly important every day,” Kaine said.
Wittman said the intelligence committee knew of this before but didn’t tell anyone. He said the incident poses a threat to the country’s national security and he’s expecting a briefing from the Pentagon soon.
“There’s also apparently other platforms with balloons that are going in other areas of the world,” he said. “What is our policy going forward? Because I think the Chinese are probing not only the United States but every aspect of what’s happening globally.”
Both congressmen want to look into what can be done to prevent this from happening again.
“This is an incredibly aggressive posture by China, one that shouldn’t go unresponded to. One that has significant national security implications for this nation. We have to know what this is all about,” Wittman said.