TikTok Forced-Sale Bill Advances With Bipartisan House Approval — Stage Set for Key Senate Vote

tiktok ban bill vote
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tiktok ban bill vote
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After receiving strong support in the House, a bill that would compel the sale of TikTok (and possibly other platforms) in the U.S. is heading to the Senate. Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

The House has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would compel ByteDance to divest from (or shut down) TikTok in the U.S. – setting the stage for a high-profile Senate vote.

352 representatives supported the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act today, after the measure exited committee in a unanimous vote last week. Meanwhile, 65 lawmakers (15 Republicans and 50 Democrats) opposed the bill, and their pushback might offer a preview as to the arguments that could come up as the Senate weighs the legislation.

“This bill was incredibly rushed, from committee to vote in 4 days, with little explanation,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez summarized of her no vote. “There are serious antitrust and privacy questions here, and any national security concerns should be laid out to the public prior to a vote.”

On the other side of the aisle, some lawmakers have taken issue with the bill’s comparatively broad scope. As we reported closer to March’s beginning, the act would seemingly enable the possible forced sale not only of TikTok, but, based on the term “foreign adversary” and the president’s discretion to determine which covered companies “present a significant threat to the national security of the United States,” different apps, websites, and programs.

Also featured prominently in the bill, we previously summarized, are clauses that would stop internet companies and app stores alike from providing services for or involving “foreign adversary controlled applications.”

“The passage of the House TikTok ban is not just a misguided overreach; it’s a draconian measure that stifles free expression, tramples constitutional rights, and disrupts the economic pursuits of millions of Americans,” Senator Rand Paul wrote on Twitter/X.

Moving beyond the many other remarks from lawmakers about the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, the exact timetable associated with the legislation’s Senate vote is unclear.

Similarly unclear, of course, is the measure’s outlook in the chamber, where ByteDance and the long-controversial TikTok are reportedly lobbying heavily. But the White House has signaled that the president would sign the bill should it reach his desk.

After that, the penalties described in the legislation would go into effect for all foreign adversary controlled apps 180 days post-enactment. Predictably, TikTok, far from standing idly by or committing solely to the aforementioned lobbying efforts, is reportedly set to challenge the measure in court if it becomes law.

Worth noting in conclusion is that this isn’t the first – or even the second – time TikTok has been staring down a possible ban or forced sale in the States. Nevertheless, the latest congressional push appears to have relatively substantial momentum behind it, and prospective buyers are already lining up to purchase the ultra-popular (but music-limited) service if ByteDance is made to divest.

And it’s against this backdrop that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has responded to the “disappointing” House vote with a video, taking the opportunity to tout his company’s data policies and claim that the bill “will lead to a ban of TikTok in the United States” if it’s signed into law. Moreover, the exec emphasized the purported economic fallout of a ban and, unsurprisingly, encouraged TikTokers to reach out to their senators.