Many Americans were shocked earlier this week to learn that a Chinese spy balloon had been spotted over Montana, which is home to some 150 nuclear-armed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Yet rather than shoot the balloon down, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder recently said that the military will instead simply "track and monitor it closely."
Montana's KTVQ quoted Ryder as saying that at a press conference on Friday. He added, "Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years.
"Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information," Ryder continued.
"The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground," he stressed.
Republican lawmakers have been highly critical of the Biden administration's decision not to shoot down the balloon.
Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall declared in a tweet on Friday that "President Biden must protect the sovereignty of the U.S. whether it’s our airspace or the southern border."
I can confirm the Chinese spy ballon is over NE KS. My staff is in contact with law enforcement officials.
I condemn any attempts the Chinese make to spy on Americans. President Biden must protect the sovereignty of the U.S. whether it’s our airspace or the southern border.
— Dr. Roger Marshall (@RogerMarshallMD) February 3, 2023
Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt was vocal as well, insisting that "we shouldn’t have a Chinese spy balloon floating over the United States of America."
I know I was just named to the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday but I’m going to go out on a limb and say we shouldn’t have a Chinese spy balloon floating over the United States of America.
Take it down.
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) February 3, 2023
What's more, Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran accused China of having "invaded US airspace" and insisted that the White House "needs to take action to address this situation."
China invaded US airspace, & the Biden admin needs to take action to address this situation. Further delay is unacceptable. I have received reports of a balloon over NE Kansas, & I am in contact with DoD on what action is being taken to protect Kansans & the US from this threat.
— Senator Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) February 3, 2023
Meanwhile, newly elected Ohio Republican Sen. J.D. Vance offered a humorous take by tweeting out a picture of himself holding a rifle while looking up at the sky.
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) February 3, 2023