Leading Defense Subcommittee Briefing with Top Defense Officials, Tester Demands Answers on Chinese Spy Balloon
As Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Tester held first public briefing to hold Biden Administration officials accountable;
Tester: “I don’t want a damn balloon going over the United States… I’ve got a problem with a Chinese balloon flying over my state, much less the rest of the country”
U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, today led the first public briefing demanding answers from Biden Administration officials on the Chinese spy balloon that was first publicly reported in U.S. airspace above Billings, Montana.
During the briefing, Tester continued his efforts to secure real answers for Montanans and all Americans on this unacceptable provocation by China, on the decisions the Administration made in real-time, and on what steps they are taking to ensure this never happens again.
“The American people deserve answers about the Chinese spy balloon that was first publicly reported to be in U.S. airspace above my home state of Montana,” said Tester in his opening remarks before the committee. “Montanans and folks all across this country value their freedom and privacy. Those are American values that China wants to destroy on their way to replacing us as the world’s leading superpower.”
Tester continued, “I, along with many of my colleagues on this committee, have been ringing the alarm bell on Chinese aggression long before last week’s news. And I will take on anyone to make sure China does not weaken our national security. That’s why I am prepared to hold anyone accountable, including the folks seated here before the committee today, to get real answers. ”
Last week, Tester released a statement calling for answers on what happened and what steps the Administration is taking to protect American national security.
Officials who appeared before the committee included The Honorable Melissa Dalton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs; Mr. Jedidiah Royal, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs; Vice Admiral Sara Joyner, Director of Force Structure, Resources and Assessments, Joint Staff (J8); and Rear Admiral Fred Kacher, Vice Director for Operations, Joint Staff (J3).
During questioning, Tester pressed Administration officials before the committee, asking: “Do we have a plan on what we’re going to do next time this happens? … I will tell you this: we think we know what they were going to collect, but we don’t know. That scares the hell out of me… Quite frankly I’ll just tell you, I don’t want a damn balloon going across the United States when we potentially could have taken it down over the Aleutian Islands… I’ve got a problem with a Chinese balloon flying over my state, much less the rest of the country.”
Tester has been sounding the alarm on Chinese aggression long before the spy balloon was first reported. Earlier this year, Tester teamed up with U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to introduce bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing foreign adversaries like China from investing in, purchasing, leasing or otherwise acquiring U.S. farmland.