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Lawmakers react to US shooting down suspected Chinese spy balloon

If you can't get enough of the Chinese balloon saga, turns out there's another sighting in Costa Rica.

Lawmakers react to US shooting down suspected Chinese spy balloon
Chad Fish via AP
SMS

The Chinese balloon most certainly got a lot of people talking, particularly politicians. 

With all the bickering on both sides of the aisle, Democrat and Republican lawmakers can agree on one thing this weekend, taking down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was a success.

The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon floated across the country 60,000 feet in the air - for seven days - ultimately shot down by a U.S. F-22 fighter jet on Saturday afternoon.

The balloon was downed once it flew into the Atlantic Ocean, off North Carolina's coast. The act praised by lawmakers in both parties, including Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

"I want to start by doing something that I don't do very often, which is commending Joe Biden for actually having the guts to shoot this down. That was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, he didn't do that until a week after it entered U.S. airspace," said Sen. Cruz.

Last week, the Pentagon warned the president against taking down the balloon, with worries that debris could injure civilians.

"I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible. They decided without doing damage to anyone on the ground," said President Joe Biden. "Decided that the best time to do that was when we got over water, within a 12-mile limit."

Still, some Republicans, like Senator Marco Rubio, wanted swifter action.

US downs Chinese balloon over ocean, moves to recover debris
US downs Chinese balloon over ocean, moves to recover debris

US downs Chinese balloon over ocean, moves to recover debris

While the US has its suspicions, China has continued to claim that the balloon is merely a weather research "airship" that had been blown off course.

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"The message embedded in this to the world is we can fly a balloon over airspace of the United States of America, and they won't be able to do anything about it to stop us," said Sen. Rubio.

Democrats were quick to defend the president. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says senators will get a comprehensive briefing on the Chinese surveillance balloon as soon as Tuesday.

"The bottom line here is shooting down the surveillance balloon over water wasn't just the safest option, but it was the one that maximized our intelligence payload," said Schumer.

Still, China officials refute U.S. claims saying that the white orb was a civilian research balloon.

"Keep in mind that this is not the first time this has happened. During the Trump administration, at least three times, these observation balloons transited the U.S. territory," said Rep. John Garamendi.

Former President Donald Trump said those claims "never happened" and told Fox News he was never briefed.

On the flip side, a former CIA official calls the Chinese balloon an "insignificant national security issue."

"Look, if the Chinese want to collect photos of America, you could get to Google Earth, you could get a Chinese secret satellite if they want to intercept communications," said Phil Mudd, Former CIA Counterterrorism Official.

Both the U.S. and China have been spying on each other with modern technologies. China after all, has the 2nd largest economy next to the U.S.

However, some intelligence experts are saying this is all a distraction; that the balloon technology is a step back.

"It is not like a satellite that you can't see or somebody at an embassy collecting for the Chinese, it is a captivating story because it looks like a spy movie," said Mudd.

And if you can't get enough of the Chinese balloon saga, turns out there's another sighting in Costa Rica.