President Joe Biden on Saturday briefly spoke about the Chinese spy balloon that has been hovering over the U.S. over the past few days as the Federal Aviation Administration paused departures and arrivals at three airports in the Carolinas.
Asked by a reporter if the U.S. will shoot down the balloon as he deplaned Air Force Once, Biden said, “We’re gonna take care of it." It was the first time Biden had spoken on camera about the balloon and he did not say how his administration plans to take care of it.
Residents in North Carolina and South Carolina reported seeing the spy balloon Saturday, and the Federal Aviation Administration paused departures and arrivals at three local airports due to “a national security effort."
“The FAA has paused departures from and arrivals to Wilmington (ILM), Myrtle Beach International (MYR) and Charleston International (CHS) airports to support the Department of Defense in a national security effort,” the FAA said in a statement.
In a news briefing Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said that the military was still “reviewing options” but had not taken the balloon down because “right now we assess that there is no physical threat or military threat to people on the ground.”
Ryder said on Friday that the balloon was flying at an altitude of 60,000 feet — above civilian and military aviation — and moving eastward across the continental U.S.
Top Republicans in Congress have demanded answers from the Biden administration about the Chinese balloon, with some saying the U.S. should have shot it down. Former President Donald Trump posted on his platform Truth Social, “SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON!”
The balloon was spotted over Billings, Montana, on Wednesday after having flown over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and through Canada.
China said Friday that the balloon was a “civilian airship” used for weather research that had been blown off course. Ryder pushed back on Beijing’s claims, saying, “We know that it’s a surveillance balloon.”