House plows ahead with TikTok bill despite Trump’s opposition

The House is steaming ahead with a bill that could ban TikTok despite vocal opposition from former President Trump, who once led the charge against the popular app.

The House will vote this week on the bipartisan Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, under a special rule that waives discussion of the bill and requires a two-third majority to pass, according to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) weekly schedule released Monday.

“We must ensure the Chinese government cannot weaponize TikTok against American users and our government through data collection and propaganda,” Scalise said.

The plan highlights the bipartisan momentum propelling the bill forward quickly through the House, even as Trump — the party’s leader and likely presidential nominee — speaks out against it.

It advanced with rare unanimous support Thursday out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, just two days after it was introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the top lawmakers on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

The bill would force ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based parent company, to divest the app or face a ban within the U.S. The measure also lays out a process for banning other apps that are found to be controlled by U.S. adversaries.

Although the bill has broad bipartisan support, it’s also facing opposition on both sides of the aisle that could pose hurdles for lawmakers — along with a fierce opposition campaign launched by TikTok.

On the right, the most influential force bashing the bill is Trump, who is on track to clinch the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

Trump has flipped since his failed efforts to ban TikTok as president, arguing Monday that getting rid of the app would benefit Facebook.

The former president was banned from Facebook in 2021 after spreading false claims about voter fraud ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. Trump’s account was reinstated last year.

“There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad with TikTok. But the thing I don’t like is, without TikTok you can make Facebook bigger. And I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people, along with the media,” Trump said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Trump said he still believes there are national security threats posed by the app, but that those threats also exist with American tech companies.

“If you look at some of our American companies … they’re not so American,” Trump said. “They deal in which, and if China wants anything from them, they will give it. So that’s a national security risk also.”

The former president also bashed Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg in a post last week on Truth Social, Trump’s social media website.

“If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business,” Trump said. “I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better. They are a true Enemy of the People!”

Supporters of the bill said that concerns about TikTok posing national security threats are at the heart of their push to pass the legislation. They also said that the bill is not an outright ban, as it gives TikTok’s parent company ByteDance 165 days to divest TikTok before facing a ban on U.S. app stores and web hosting services.

TikTok has denied accusations that it poses national security threats. The company also pushed back strongly on the latest effort, which it cast as a “total ban of TikTok,” and urged users to call Congress against supporting in a notification push campaign last week.

In response to Trump’s comments, Gallagher said he agrees with the concerns raised by the former president, but thinks the bill put forward addresses them.

“Trump was right about the national security problem posed by TikTok in 2020. And he’s right today that just pushing TikTok users onto Facebook isn’t the answer. That’s why our bill is the right path forward—it surgically removes [Chinese Communist Party] control and creates an opportunity to put TikTok in better hands,” Gallagher said in a statement.

In addition to Trump’s opposition, the conservative group FreedomWorks also bashed the bill as setting a “dangerous precedent.”

Trump’s comments opposing a bill that could ban TikTok came after he confirmed he recently met with Jeff Yass, a major GOP donor and investor in TikTok. Trump said Yass did not bring up TikTok during the conversation.

Yass has also donated to FreedomWorks, according to non-profit lobbying tracker OpenSecrets. The conservative nonprofit Heritage Action, however, is supporting the bill and making it a “key vote” for House Republicans on their record with the political group.

Some other prominent Republicans are speaking out against the bill ahead of the vote.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said Friday he would not vote for the bill based on the power it gives the president to designate other foreign adversary controlled applications.

“Next week, the House will vote to give Biden the power to decide which apps you can run on your phone, based on whether he deems them to be owned by a foreign adversary. I’ve never used TikTok, but I’m not voting to give the President new powers to ban it and other apps,” Massie said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” he is “conflicted” about a possible TikTok ban.

“Banning TikTok may be necessary to protect American data from China, but if you can find a way to avoid that, that would be good too,” he said.

In 2020, Graham defended Trump’s move to ban TikTok.

The House will also likely have votes against the bill on the left. Groups including the ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University have said the bill poses First Amendment risks by infringing on free speech rights.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) raised those concerns in a Friday post on X.

“TikTok continues to serve as a network for organizing, growing small businesses, & building community. Congress should not ban it. Rather than target ONE company, Congress must pass comprehensive data privacy legislation,” Bush said.

President Biden said he would sign the bill if it is passed by Congress.

It is not yet clear whether the legislation has a viable path forward in the Senate.

Last week, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), one of the more vocal lawmakers on the TikTok debate, said in a statement he has “some concerns about the constitutionality of an approach that names specific companies, but I have tremendous respect for Congressman Gallagher and I’m going to be taking a close look at this bill.”

Last year, Warner introduced the bipartisan RESTRICT Act which would have created a process that could allow for TikTok or other apps to be banned, but did not name the company in the legislation.

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