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House Republicans ‘hopeful’ Trump-opposed TikTok bill passes

House Republicans supporting a bill that could ban TikTok said Tuesday they are hopeful it will pass in a floor vote despite vocal opposition from former President Trump.

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would force TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance to divest the popular app or be banned in the U.S.

Republicans backing the bill largely dismissed concerns about Trump’s backlash swaying the party from passing the bill.

House Republicans are bringing up the bill through a special rule that requires a two-thirds majority to pass the measure, rather than the simple majority needed to pass most House bills.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party and lead co-sponsor of the bill, said Tuesday there is a “great bipartisan core” behind the measure.

He specifically praised Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the chair and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which advanced the bill in a rare unanimous vote Thursday.

The duo “did God’s work working together. Leadership is there, the White House is there, it seems to be lining up, I just want a big vote on Wednesday so the Senate is forced to take it up,” Gallagher said.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.)
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.)

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) leaves a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday, February 6, 2024. (Greg Nash)

McMorris Rodgers said she is “hopeful” the bill will pass tomorrow in a floor vote.

The Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act would give ByteDance 165 days from the day it is enacted to divest TikTok or face a ban on U.S. app stores and web hosting services.

Trump, who failed to ban the app while in office in 2020, has spoken out against the latest effort in interviews and on his Truth Social platform. The former president has expressed concerns about how a TikTok ban may benefit rival social media platform Facebook, which suspended the Trump in 2021 after spreading false claims about voter fraud ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. His 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.”

Gallagher said he was “surprised” to see Trump’s statement, but the outcome misrepresents the bill’s intent.

“The bill doesn’t shut down TikTok and force all its users on Facebook. The world we all want to live in — and I think the world Trump would want to live in particularly if he’s the one that gets to consummate the deal — is the one in which ByteDance divests from TikTok and then TikTok is sold to an American or a joint American and allied constellation of companies,” Gallagher said.

He added that the bill is setting out to accomplish the ban Trump sought in 2020 by aiming to get around some of the legal challenges his attempt faced. It was ultimately blocked in court, as was another ban sought by a Montana.


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McMorris Rodgers said “we share [Trump’s] concerns about Meta and Facebook, and we’re working on that separately.”

“This is a unique situation that we’re addressing through a targeted, very specific approach for apps that are controlled by foreign adversaries,” she said.

Trump’s comments opposing the bill 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.

The push to pass the bill is centered around concerns that TikTok poses a national security threat based around its ties to its Chinese-based parent company. TikTok has pushed back on those allegations.

Intelligence officials with the FBI, Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence briefed House members Tuesday about concerns around TikTok.

“Maybe [Trump] hasn’t heard, or he hasn’t been informed of what we just heard at the SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility]. I’m sure if he heard that, everything that’s happening, I’m sure he will agree with us,” Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) said after the briefing.

Some Republicans, though, have indicated they won’t support the bill.

Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a top Trump ally, posted concerns about the bill on X, formerly known as Twitter. Like Trump, Greene raised questions about an impact on Meta — Facebook’s parent company — and how the bill would impact content on the platform.

The bill does not seek to address content on the platform.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) also expressed concerns about the bill, based on broad powers he said it would give the president.

“The so-called TikTok ban is a trojan horse. The President will be given the power to ban WEB SITES, not just Apps. The person breaking the new law is deemed to be the U.S. (or offshore) INTERNET HOSTING SERVICE or App Store, not the ‘foreign adversary,’” Massie posted on X.

The bill specifically names ByteDance and TikTok as a foreign adversary controlled application, and also lays out a process to allow the president to designate other foreign adversary controlled applications with ties to China, North Korea, Iran and Russia.

Along with Trump and others on the right, the bill is also facing opposition from some members on the left.

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) said the bill imposes limits on free speech and that the process is being rushed. He said Congress should work on legislation that aims to protect Americans’ data from foreign adversaries and domestic companies.

“But this kind of surgical approach to a very specific company that’s going to have consequences for people in our country, I don’t think is the way to handle that,” he said.

Frost said he is starting to hear more people express those concerns since it passed through committee, but he still anticipates it will pass the House floor Wednesday.

Groups including the ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University have also raised concerns that the bill poses First Amendment risks by infringing on free speech rights.

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