Updated Feb 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Senators to receive classified briefing this week on China balloon

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on Feb. 2. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate is getting an all-member classified briefing on Thursday in the wake of the surveillance balloon that traveled across part of the U.S., a spokesperson for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Axios.

The big picture: Some lawmakers have been demanding more information related to the balloon and Republican lawmakers have criticized President Biden for not shooting it down sooner.

  • A classified briefing focused on China had already been scheduled for Feb. 15, but the briefing will now focus on the balloon, NBC News reports.

Driving the news: “At the all-Senators classified briefing, the Department of Defense will brief us on how the U.S. military stacks up against China and the latest about the surveillance balloon," Schumer said in a news release.

  • Schumer has not received the briefing, but "the parameters usually involve where we stand with respect to China on everything from surveillance capabilities, research and development, advance weapons systems and other critical platforms that would allow for either side to have an upper hand in a conflict," per the statement.

State of play: Schumer also defended the Biden administration's actions in taking down the balloon, in the face of GOP criticism.

  • “Republican critics were breathless, political and premature. President Biden and his team were calm, calculating and effective,” he said.
  • House Intelligence Chair Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), meanwhile, said Sunday: "I think this administration lacks urgency," referring to the balloon.
  • Biden gave his authorization Wednesday to take down the surveillance balloon "as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path," per the Department of Defense.

Go deeper: Trump denies Chinese balloons flew over U.S. during his administration

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's spokesperson.

Go deeper