Potential TikTok ban bill passes House vote, could speed through Senate


House lawmakers escalated efforts to limit video-sharing platform TikTok, renewing stress on the Senate by advancing a bill Saturday that might pressure the corporate to be offered or face a nationwide ban as a part of a broader bundle sending help to Israel and Ukraine.

The unorthodox maneuver could expedite the crackdown’s path through Congress, the place negotiations had slowed after an earlier try hurtled through the House final month. With rising assist within the Senate, the laws seems extra doubtless than ever to turn into legislation.

The transfer represents some of the important threats to the U.S. operations of the wildly well-liked app, which is utilized by roughly 170 million Americans, however whose China-based father or mother firm ByteDance has lengthy sparked nationwide safety fears in Washington.

TikTok is “a spy balloon in Americans’ phones” used to “surveil and exploit America’s private data,” Rep. Michael McCaul mentioned Saturday as he launched the measure for debate.

The House voted 360 to 58 to approve laws authorizing new sanctions towards Russia and Iran, and requiring that TikTok divest from ByteDance or face a prohibition, one in every of a number of measures thought-about alongside the $95 billion international help payments.

House lawmakers overwhelmingly superior an earlier model of the laws concentrating on TikTok final month, however by tying the difficulty to the help bundle, which has broad bipartisan assist in each chambers, the brand new effort could set off swift consideration within the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) mentioned Friday he hopes the House passes the international help payments “without further delay” and that the “Senate will move expeditiously to send it to the president’s desk” if handed.

President Biden mentioned final month he would signal the TikTok bill if handed by Congress, and on Wednesday he endorsed the House international help bundle, saying, “The House must pass the package this week, and the Senate should quickly follow.”

But till House lawmakers unveiled plans to merge the TikTok laws with international help this week, the bill’s path within the Senate remained murky with no clear timetable for consideration.

Under an up to date model of the bill, ByteDance would have as much as 360 days to divest TikTok. If it declined or failed to take action throughout that point, cell app shops and web-hosting suppliers can be prohibited from providing the app to customers within the United States, successfully banning it nationwide. The bill explicitly targets TikTok and ByteDance, however would give the president the facility to impose an analogous ultimatum towards different apps deemed to be “controlled” by “foreign adversaries.”

TikTok has blasted lawmakers’ efforts to probably ban the app as an affront on free speech and disputes lawmakers’ options that it’s beholden to China or any authorities.

“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans,” the corporate mentioned in a press release posted on-line this week.

Since lawmakers launched their newest proposal concentrating on the app final month, the corporate has launched a significant counteroffensive towards the trouble, enlisting scores of customers through pop-up notifications to bombard lawmakers with calls voicing opposition to the laws.

“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually,” TikTok mentioned in a press release to the Washington Post.

After House lawmakers handed the sooner TikTok laws in simply over per week, many senators known as for slowing down deliberations within the higher chamber. Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), whose committee has jurisdiction over the bill, initially expressed considerations about whether or not the proposal could face up to authorized scrutiny and known as for hearings.

But since then, a lot of senators have come out in favor of the proposal and plans to tuck it into the international help bundle. Cantwell introduced Wednesday that she now helps the laws after lawmakers agreed to present ByteDance extra time to unload TikTok.

Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, are supportive of the bill’s inclusion within the help bundle, their workplaces confirmed. The two lawmakers had beforehand led separate legislative efforts to deal with considerations over the app.

“I’m glad to see the House help push this important bill forward to force Beijing-based ByteDance to divest its ownership of TikTok,” Warner mentioned in a press release to The Washington Post.

The effort is prone to face important authorized hurdles, as have earlier makes an attempt by the Trump administration and states to pressure a sale or ban of the app.

Nadine Farid Johnson, coverage director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, a gaggle that advocates without spending a dime speech rights, mentioned in a press release Friday that the TikTok bill would “infringe” on “Americans’ First Amendment right to access information, ideas, and media from abroad.”

“Legislators who are genuinely concerned about social media platforms’ practices have better options at their disposal, and we continue to urge lawmakers to lean in to those rather than undermining the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans,” Johnson mentioned.

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