April 22, 2024

TikTok Ban: Here’s Who Supports It (Biden, House GOP Leaders)—And Doesn’t (Trump, Some Democrats)

TikTok Ban: Here’s Who Supports It (Biden, House GOP Leaders)—And Doesn’t (Trump, Some Democrats)

TikTok Ban: Here’s Who Supports It (Biden, House GOP Leaders)—And Doesn’t (Trump, Some Democrats)

Story by Zachary Folk
12 March 2024

The House of Representatives may vote as soon as Wednesday on a bill that would force Chinese tech firm ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban in the United States—and political support for the bill appears divided between parties, even their presidential candidates.

Last Thursday, the bill was approved by the entire House Energy and Commerce Committee in a rare 50-0 vote, gaining support from committee chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) promised to bring the “critical national security bill” to the floor for a vote this week.

The bill also received bipartisan support from the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) stating TikTok “poses a grave threat to US national security” as long as it is owned by ByteDance.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) also came out in support of the bill in a statement Thursday, calling it “an important bipartisan measure to take on China, our largest geopolitical foe, which is actively undermining our economy and security.”

President Joe Biden expressed support for the legislation, telling reporters on Friday, “if they pass it, I’ll sign it.”

Former President Donald Trump has come out against the bill, a stunning reversal after he tried to ban TikTok by executive action in 2020.

Democrats—specifically the progressive caucus—may also end up opposing the bill, according to Bloomberg Law.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has long opposed efforts to ban TikTok on the grounds of free speech. More surprisingly, Trump now says he doesn’t support the ban because it might “make Facebook bigger and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people,” he told CNBC Monday (he did clarify that he still believes the app poses a national security threat). Some members of the Progressive Caucus may side with TikTok, fearing the ban is infringement on free speech, according to Bloomberg Law, which quoted caucus member Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., saying, “They say it is not a ban but it is.” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., another caucus member, announced his opposition to the bill in a TikTok. Former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who now works for conservative policy organization Club for Growth, has spent time on Capitol Hill lobbying on behalf of TikTok, Politico reported last week. Jeff Yass, a billionaire and one of the biggest donors to Club for Growth, owns a 15% stake in ByteDance.

However, the bill might run into opposition from Democrats, including some who are working on their own version of a TikTok ban. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, has reportedly been working on her own legislation to tackle the security issues surrounding ByteDance, but has not made any details public. In a statement to CNN, Cantwell did not say if she would vote for or against the House bill.

Although the ban has received a flood of bipartisan support in the House, it remains unclear if it will pass the Senate. Several Republican senators have promoted TikTok bans in the past, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who introduced his own legislation in 2022. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) spent much of 2023 promoting his own bill that would ban TikTok altogether by preventing ByteDance from operating in the U.S. Hawley last tried to pass his bill by unanimous consent in November, but failed to get the required votes. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) also voiced harsh criticism for TikTok in her response to the State of the Union last Thursday, accusing China of spreading “propaganda” through the app. “The CCP knows that if it conquers the minds of our next generation, it conquers America,” Britt said. Sen.Tim Scott (R-S.C.), a former Republican presidential candidate and rumored to be on the short list to run as Donald Trump’s vice president in 2024, supported a similar proposal at a debate in November. Scott noted that previous attempts to ban TikTok were struck down in the courts, and asked legislators to instead “eliminate the Chinese presence on the app, period.”

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