Lawmakers Ask if U.S. Companies Helped Develop China’s Spy Balloon

Sen. Dan Sullivan speaks during a news conference in August 2022. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Good afternoon. We have a jam-packed edition of Uphill for you today. Thanks to the spy balloon that crossed the United States last week, China was the focus on the Hill this week, but two high-profile House GOP committees began their investigatory work too.

Balloon Could Add Fuel to Investment Screening Debate

U.S. officials are investigating whether the Chinese spy balloon that traversed the United States last week was made with components from American companies, according to one senator. If it was, lawmakers may revive efforts to screen outbound investments in China.

“American companies shouldn’t be helping build spy satellites that are used against their own citizens,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, told reporters Thursday after a classified briefing. “Maybe there’s nothing. Somebody asked about it, and nobody in that briefing said, ‘Oh, it’s not a problem.’”

Lawmakers came close to a deal last year to establish a new review board to restrict American investments abroad involving “critical and emerging” technologies and important supply chain sectors such as semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. But some businesses pushed back, and several Republicans raised fears about giving the government too much power to block deals.

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