Bipartisan Efforts in the House to Regulate TikTok Face Senate Roadblock

The House stands on the brink of a potentially robust bipartisan vote aiming to effectively prohibit TikTok in the United States, but the road ahead in the Senate appears more challenging.

GOP leaders in the House are preparing for a vote on Wednesday concerning the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,” despite strong opposition from TikTok users and recent criticism from former President Donald Trump. This bipartisan legislation mandates ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to divest its stake in the app to ensure its continued availability in the U.S.

Despite mounting public backlash, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the bill, fostering optimism among supporters for its passage on the House floor. However, bipartisan resistance is brewing in the Senate.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced on Monday his intention to object to a unanimous passage request, necessitating substantial floor time for debate before a roll-call vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not committed to bringing the TikTok bill to the floor, stating he needs to consult with committee chairs.

One such chair, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) favors an alternative approach through the GUARD Act, which empowers the Department of Commerce to regulate TikTok and similar foreign apps without an outright ban. Cantwell expressed skepticism regarding the House bill’s viability.

Bipartisan Efforts in the House to Regulate TikTok Face Senate Roadblock
Bipartisan Efforts in the House to Regulate TikTok Face Senate Roadblock (Credits: POLITICO)

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) highlighted the competing interests at play, acknowledging both proponents and opponents of the bill. He expressed doubts about the bill’s chances given historical precedent but remained open to seeing its progress.

Senators from both parties raised concerns about the House bill’s specificity in targeting TikTok. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) suggested focusing on problematic functionalities and entities rather than singling out specific companies. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) emphasized the need for comprehensive regulations covering all social media platforms.

President Joe Biden has indicated a willingness to sign the bill if it reaches his desk, contrasting with Trump’s reversal on his initial support. Trump argued that banning TikTok would benefit Facebook, which he views unfavorably.

Despite differing opinions, some senators remain receptive to the legislation. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) welcomed it, while others are still evaluating its provisions.

House members are scheduled to receive a briefing on Tuesday from Biden administration officials who support the bill. Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers stressed the importance of members being informed about the national security implications posed by apps owned by foreign adversaries.

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