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Senators grill Air Force nominee on border and Chinese spy balloon, revealing national security concerns

Photo from Politico

President Joe Biden’s nomination for Air Force undersecretary, Melissa Dalton, was grilled by Senate Republicans. Her border policy responses and the Chinese spy balloon incident were scrutinized. Republicans questioned Dalton, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs,’s attentiveness to senators.

Photo from Air & Space Forces Magazine

Nominee Melissa Dalton Faces Senate Scrutiny

Mike Rounds, a senator, said Dalton needed to win committee members’ trust before her nomination vote. There were concerns about Dalton’s delayed response to Republican senators’ March 2023 letter about the Trump administration‘s underused border materials. After the Defense Logistics Agency auctioned the items, Dalton was criticized.

She was also criticized for advising the Biden administration on allowing a Chinese spy balloon to cross North America before being shot down off South Carolina. Despite her claim that senior military officials announced against shooting down the balloon above U.S. territory, Republicans questioned her judgment.

Democrats praised Dalton for analyzing anomalous health situations, while Republicans voiced concerns about her candidacy in the closely split Senate. The Air Force’s No. 2 civilian would be Dalton if confirmed.

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Senator Cramer Takes a Conciliatory Tone Amidst Controversy

Despite Republican senators’ criticism, Senator Kevin Cramer was conciliatory, stating that occasional mistakes are acceptable and highlighting the significance of repair.

The timeline of the Senate Armed Services Committee‘s vote on Dalton’s nomination and total Senate vote is uncertain. In the Senate’s fragile Democratic majority, the outcome might be necessary. As Dalton seeks confirmation, she must address hearing issues and gain support.

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