Senate should move swiftly on TikTok bill

TikTok creators gather before a press conference to voice their opposition to the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,” pending crackdown legislation on TikTok in the House of Representatives, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2024.

Craig Hudson | Reuters

White House national security adviser John Kirby said Sunday that the Senate should swiftly advance a bill that would force Chinese technology company ByteDance to sell TikTok. The bill passed in the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“We’re glad the House took it up. And we urge the Senate to move swiftly on this,” Kirby said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We want to see divestiture from this Chinese company because we are concerned, as every American ought to be concerned, about data security and what ByteDance and what the Chinese Communist Party could do with the information that they can glean off of Americans use of the application.”

The White House’s call to action comes as the Senate slow-walks the bill, requiring ByteDance to sell TikTok to an American company or face a ban in the U.S.

The bill passed in a 352-65 House vote on Wednesday. President Joe Biden, currently on TikTok for his reelection campaign, said he would sign the bill if it passed Congress.

Fueled by the momentum in their chamber’s vote, eager House members want the bill to move forward more quickly.

“Mike [Gallagher] and I have had conversations, very positive ones, with different members of the Senate, who are very interested in this bill and who were very surprised by the size or the margin of the overwhelming bipartisan support in the House,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Il., who co-chairs the special House committee on China relations with Wisconsin Republican Rep. Gallagher, on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

However, the Senate has a busy week ahead as Capitol Hill scrambles to negotiate a budget resolution for the remaining six appropriations bills that are due to expire on Friday, which would trigger a partial government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has made clear that he is in no rush on the TikTok bill. He said that he “will review” the text without committing to a vote timeline. Schumer has previously expressed support for selling TikTok to a U.S. company.

Plus, some upper chamber lawmakers have dragged their heels over the bill rather than wholly embracing it.

For example, senators like Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., have offered tentative support for the measure but hesitated to commit to a yes vote.

“I’m certainly sympathetic to it. Let’s see how it goes through the Senate process. But yes, I think we need to put guardrails in regards to the ownership of TikTok,” said Cardin in a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The TikTok bill has also sparked debate outside of Capitol Hill. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has voiced his opposition to a potential TikTok ban, a reversal from his stance years ago when he was advocating for the ban when he served as president.

“Without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people,” Trump said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence reiterated Sunday that Trump’s opposition to the TikTok bill is the primary reason why he decided not to endorse his former boss for president in the coming election.

“The president’s reversal just in the last week on on TikTok, following an administration where we literally changed the national consensus on China is the reason why, after a lot of reflection, I just concluded I cannot endorse the agenda that Donald Trump is carrying into this national debate,” Pence said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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