House Passes Potential TikTok Ban Alongside Israel, Ukraine Aid

On Saturday, the House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that would require TikTok to be sold to a non-Chinese company. If approved by the Senate and signed into law by the president, it would give TikTok-owner ByteDance one year to sell — if that doesn’t happen, the wildly popular social media video app would be banned in the United States.

The ban was packaged alongside aid for both Israel and Ukraine. Controversy over the Ukraine funding has put pressure on House Speaker Mike Johnson and led members of his own party to threaten a vote to remove him from the speakership.

It is expected that ByteDance will challenge the the measure, which passed by 360-58 vote, in court on the basis that a ban would deprive millions of users in the United States of rights afforded to them by the First Amendment. Any legal challenge could also give the company more time to find a buyer for the app.

The bill is an unusual one for American lawmakers, who have never targeted one specific company before. Members of both political parties have raised concerns about whether or not ByteDance could be forced to give Chinese authorities access to sensitive data.

It also included a hefty $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and allies in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan. The question of sending another round of aid has been a source of contention in the House GOP in recent weeks and resulted in a fracture of the Republican caucus, wherein more traditional Republicans supported sending funds to help counter threats from Russia and China, and their more conservative counterparts, whose America-first approach called for less foreign spending.

Ultimately, Speaker Mike Johnson brought four bills for overseas funding to the floor, a move meant to challenge ultra-conservative leaders. Earlier this week, Johnson explained part of his reasoning: “To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys. My son is going to begin at the Naval Academy this fall this is a live-fire exercise for me as it is so many American families. This is not a game. It’s not a joke. We can’t play politics with this, we have to do the right thing.”

Ultra-conservative leaders have taken issue with the aid package for three reasons: some want American money to be spent on American issues at home, others want to stop adding to the national debt, and a third group aren’t interested in helping Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Some Democrats have also expressed concern about the aid package, but for a different reason. Of the $26 billion allocated for Israel, $9.2 billion is for humanitarian aid for Gaza. Some Democrats have called for more money for the besieged territory.

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