House to Vote Today on Resolution Condemning China's Use of Spy Ballon

The House will vote today on a resolution “Condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s use of a high-altitude surveillance balloon over United States territory as a brazen violation of United States sovereignty.”

A resolution is not legislation – it is a statement by one House of Congress.  But this resolution is significant for several reasons.  First and foremost, the resolution is bipartisan.  The House will largely speak with one voice today.  The resolution will be brought to the floor under “suspension of the Rules” – meaning it requires two thirds vote to pass.  Leaders in both parties believe it will easily exceed that margin.  House Republicans had considered bringing a partisan resolution earlier in the week that was more critical of President Biden.  But they decided that wasn’t the right approach.  As the 118th Congress kicks off one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement and cooperation has been on the issue of the U.S. relationship with China.  House Republican leaders determined it would send the wrong message to move a partisan resolution – especially if they could reach agreement on a bipartisan measure.  Republican and Democratic members went to work to draft the language and reached agreement last night. 

The resolution, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX) determines “determines that it should be the policy of the United States to promptly and decisively act to prevent foreign aerial surveillance platforms, including those directed by or connected to the CCP, from violating United States sovereignty; and (4) calls on the Biden administration to continue to keep Congress apprised by providing comprehensive briefings on this incident.”  The resolution calls on the Biden Administration to provide Congress with, among other things:

  • A complete account of all known infiltrations of the national airspace by the PRC over the past several years, regardless of platform
  • A complete timeline of events for the most recent infiltration from first detection to the eventual shootdown of the balloon;
  • A detailed description of plans, capabilities, and methods to deter and defeat intelligence collection activities conducted by the PRC or other foreign adversaries in the national airspace system and any additional authorities needed from Congress to ensure detection and defeat of these activities in the future.

House Democrats are willing to go on the record stating clearly they expect the Biden Administration to provide answers and keep the Congress informed moving forward.  House Republicans are willing to work with Democrats to find areas of agreement in this space instead of finding a wedge to divide the parties.  There remain deep divisions in the House on a myriad of issues.  But for now, both parties want to strive to find unity and speak, when possible, with one voice on issues related the strategic competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.


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