House passes potential TikTok ban that could speed through Senate

Author: Editors Desk, Cristiano Lima-Strong and Taylor Telford Source: The Washington Post
April 21, 2024 at 02:34
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) during a TV interview on Wednesday. (Haiyun Jiang for The Washington Post)
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) during a TV interview on Wednesday. (Haiyun Jiang for The Washington Post)

By tying the renewed crackdown to a bipartisan foreign aid deal, the bill could move quickly through Congress.

House lawmakers escalated efforts to restrict video-sharing platform TikTok, renewing pressure on the Senate by advancing a bill Saturdaythat would force the company to be sold or face a national ban as part of a broader package sending aid to Israel and Ukraine.


The unorthodox maneuver could expedite the crackdown’s path through Congress, where negotiations had slowed after an earlier attempt hurtled through the House last month. With growing support in the Senate, the legislation appears more likely than ever to become law.


The move represents one of the most significant threats to the U.S. operations of the wildly popular app, which is used by roughly 170 million Americans, but whose China-based parent company ByteDance has long sparked national security fears in Washington.


TikTok is “a spy balloon in Americans’ phones” used to “surveil and exploit America’s personal information,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Saturday as he introduced the measure for debate.

The House voted 360-58 to approve legislation authorizing new penalties against Russia and Iran and requiring that TikTok divest from ByteDance or face a prohibition, one of several measures considered alongside the $95 billion foreign aid bills.

House lawmakers overwhelmingly advanced an earlier version of the legislation targeting TikTok last month, but tying the issue to the aid package, which has broad bipartisan support in both chambers, could expedite its passage through the Senate.


The Senate plans to take the matter up Tuesday, Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement emailed to The Post. “The Senate now stands ready to take the next step,” Schumer said.

President Biden said last month he would sign the TikTok bill if passed by Congress, and on Wednesday he endorsed the House foreign aid package, saying, “The House must pass the package this week, and the Senate should quickly follow.”

Under the bill, ByteDance would have up to 360 days to divest TikTok. If it declined or failed to do so during that time, mobile app stores and web-hosting providers would be prohibited from offering the app to users in the United States, effectively banning it nationwide. The bill explicitly targets TikTok and ByteDance, but would give the president the power to impose a similar ultimatum against other apps deemed to be “controlled” by “foreign adversaries.”

The TikTok measure has broad bipartisan support in the House.

“Companies and bad actors are collecting troves of our data unchecked and using it to exploit, monetize, and manipulate Americans of all ages,” Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said Saturday in a statement lauding the bill’s passage. “This cannot be allowed to continue.”

TikTok has blasted lawmakers’ efforts to potentially ban the app as an affront on free speech and disputes lawmakers’ suggestions that it is beholden to China or any government.

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