House Passes Bill That Could Lead To TikTok Ban In The U.S.

WASHINGTON ― The House passed a bipartisan bill 360-58 on Saturday that slaps new sanctions on Iran and Russia ― and it could lead to a ban on TikTok in the U.S.

Tucked inside the 184-page sanctions bill is a provision that forces TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell its stake in the popular video platform to a U.S.-based entity within a year or face a ban. Specifically, it gives ByteDance nine months to divest, and it gives the president the option to tack on a three-month extension.

Lawmakers in both parties have raised national security and data privacy concerns with TikTok. Supporters of the social media app have questioned the constitutionality of restricting Americans’ rights to free speech.

Last month, the House overwhelmingly passed a standalone bill aimed at potentially blocking TikTok in the U.S., but it didn’t seem to have the votes to pass in the Senate. This time looks different, in part because the TikTok provision is now part of a much broader bill with more support. Beyond that, the previous House bill gave ByteDance six months to divest, and at least one key Democratic senator who opposed that bill is on board with the new proposal because of the extended time frame for divestment.

“I’m very happy that Speaker [Mike] Johnson and House leaders incorporated my recommendation to extend the Byte Dance divestment period from six months to a year,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a Wednesday statement.

“As I’ve said, extending the divestment period is necessary to ensure there is enough time for a new buyer to get a deal done,” Cantwell said. “I support this updated legislation.”

The issue has divided 2024 presidential hopefuls. President Joe Biden has already said he’d sign legislation targeting TikTok if Congress passes it. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has flip-flopped, first saying he would support a ban and more recently saying never mind, he supports the social media app.

In a Friday tweet, TikTok called it “unfortunate” that lawmakers are threatening to ban its services in the U.S. and warned that doing so could hurt the U.S. economy.

“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that 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,” the company tweeted.