Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said Saturday that Republicans ‘can stop panicking’ after the Chinese spy balloon that had traversed across American airspace for several days was shot down by the U.S. military.
‘Great news for my Republican colleagues, they can stop panicking about a balloon now,’ Beyer wrote in a tweet, shortly after Biden gave brief remarks to the press about the mission to remove the Chinese aircraft from the sky.
Beyer’s comments came shortly after the Chinese spy balloon was removed from airspace just off the coast of South Carolina.
The balloon, which made its way across North Carolina and South Carolina Saturday morning, was shot down by a U.S. military F-22 using a heat-seeking missile on Saturday afternoon.
Beyer faced scandal last year after an investigation concluded that an aide in his office had been working on behalf of the Chinese Embassy to set up meetings with congressional offices. An investigation conducted by the House Sergeant-at-Arms discovered the allegations against the aide, identified as Barbara Hamlett, and she was subsequently terminated in October.
Beyer ‘was totally unaware of these activities,’ the congressman’s Deputy Chief of Staff Aaron Fritschner said at the time. ‘As soon as he learned of them, he followed every directive he was given by security officials. The staffer in question is no longer employed by the office of Congressman Beyer.’
President Biden said after the Saturday operation that he gave authorization on Wednesday to shoot down the balloon ‘as soon as possible,’ and the Pentagon chose to wait to shoot it down until it was over the ocean.
‘They successfully took it down and I want to compliment our aviators who did it and we’ll have more to report on a little later,’ Biden added.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also acknowledged that the order was given to the military on Wednesday and that the Defense Department decided to wait.
‘On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization 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,’ Lloyd said.
Several Republican lawmakers and governors have criticized the Biden administration for its lack of communication on the issue and for a delay in shooting the balloon out of American airspace while it hovered over sparsely populated areas of the country.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller and Landon Mion contributed to this article.