Staff for the top congressional leaders from both parties were given a classified briefing Thursday on the Chinese balloon discovered floating above the U.S., according to NBC News.
Those top leaders are often referred to as the "Gang of Eight."
NBC's Frank Thorp tweeted Friday: "New: Staff for the Congressional Gang of Eight was given a classified briefing late afternoon yesterday on the situation surrounding the Chinese balloon found floating over Montana."
He attributed the information to three sources.
A senior defense official said the U.S. has "very high confidence" it's a Chinese high-altitude balloon and was flying over sensitive sites in the U.S. to collect information.
According to The Associated Press, the Pentagon decided not to shoot it down because of the risk posed by falling debris.
In another report, the AP said that China's Foreign Ministry announced Friday that a balloon the U.S. suspects of conducting surveillance was a civilian "airship" used for research, mainly for meteorological purposes.
The statement said the airship has limited steering capability and "deviated far from its planned course" because of winds.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Thursday called for a briefing of the Gang of Eight after initial reports of a Chinese spy balloon over Montana.
McCarthy tweeted: "China's brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty is a destabilizing action that must be addressed, and President Biden cannot be silent. I am requesting a Gang of Eight briefing."
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