Senate Passes Bill That Could Ban TikTok In The U.S., Sends To Biden

The president is expected to sign the measure, which requires TikTok's Chinese parent company to sell its stake in the popular video platform or get blocked.

WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a $95.3 billion package of foreign aid bills on Tuesday — and tucked inside was a provision that could lead to a TikTok ban in the U.S.

Senators voted 79 to 18 for legislation that includes a provision forcing TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to divest of the popular social media platform within a year or get blocked. It specifically gives ByteDance nine months to sell its stake in the company, and gives the U.S. president the option of extending that timeline by three more months.

The House overwhelmingly passed this legislative package last week. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it quickly as it includes badly needed aid to Ukraine and humanitarian assistance to Gaza. His signature on it will start the clock on the potential TikTok ban, too.

TikTok is immensely popular with young people, but lawmakers in both parties have raised national security and data privacy concerns with it.

“Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok or any other individual company,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said on the Senate floor. “Congress is acting to prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, harming vulnerable Americans, our servicemen and women, and our U.S. government personnel.”

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), too, said he is “very pleased” that the potential TikTok ban is part of the foreign aid package.

“The news that emerged last week that the Chinese Embassy has actually lobbied congressional staff against legislation forcing the sale of TikTok was a stunning confirmation of the value the Chinese government places on the ability to access Americans’ information,” Thune said on the Senate floor.

Biden has said that he supports banning TikTok. Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee, has fully reversed himself on it. As president, Trump called TikTok a national security threat and signed an executive order aimed at banning it. But these days, he’s been attacking Biden for vowing to ban it and has said that young voters should punish Biden for it in November.

TikTok has called the potential ban “unfortunate.”

Banning Americans’ access to TikTok “would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually,” TikTok recently posted on X, previously known as Twitter.

But Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said while young people may be upset if TikTok get banned, they haven’t been in the classified briefings that Congress has held that have examined the threats posed by the foreign control of TikTok.

“To those young Americans, I want to say we hear your concern,” Warner said on the Senate floor. “We hope that TikTok will continue under new ownership, American or otherwise. It could be bought by a group from Britain, Canada, Brazil, France. It just needs to be no longer controlled by an adversary that is defined as an adversary in U.S. law.”

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