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Senate reportedly mulls changes to TikTok ban-or-sale bill as vote timeline remains unclear

TikTok
The House overwhelmingly passed a bill last month requiring a ban or sale of TikTok.

Senate lawmakers are reportedly set to push for changes to the recently passed House bill that could force a sale of China-owned TikTok – setting up a debate that could delay the closely-watched legislation.

As The Post has reported, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is under major pressure to hold a vote on the bill, which passed the House by overwhelming majority last month. Proponents say TikTok is a potential spying and propaganda tool for the Chinese government.

While the debate in the Senate is expected to pick up steam as Congress returns from its Easter recess, a lack of progress in the upper chamber so far has frustrated the bill’s supporters, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Meanwhile, TikTok has launched a major PR campaign to rally its users against a possible ban, including TV ads in key battleground states.

TikTok has launched a PR offensive to rally support against the bill. ZUMAPRESS.com
TikTok has launched a PR offensive to rally support against the bill. ZUMAPRESS.com

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, is reportedly expected to spearhead the talks on potential changes, though her specific plans are unclear. The Journal said some Republicans fear that significant tweaks could hurt the bill’s prospects.

The Senate could decide to extend the amount of time that ByteDance would have to divest its stake in TikTok, the report said. The House version would force TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance to sell the video-sharing app within six months or be banned in the US – a timeline that the company has argued is too tight.

Some senators reportedly want to revise the bill’s language to make it more difficult to challenge in court. Others are mulling whether to try to expand its scope to tackle other concerns related to social media apps.

Schumer has yet to publicly take a stance on the TikTok bill or signal when a vote could occur. Cantwell reportedly wants to hold at least one hearing on the legislation, Senate aides told the Journal.

Cantwell’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Even if the Senate eventually holds a vote and passes its version of the bill, the House would need to approve the revised version.

At present, it remains unclear if the TikTok proposal has enough support to pass the Senate. Some lawmakers, such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, have raised concerns about the bill on free-speech grounds.

Sen. Maria Cantwell is reportedly expected to lead the push for changes to the bill. AP
Sen. Maria Cantwell is reportedly expected to lead the push for changes to the bill. AP

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told the Journal that he has “a lot of concerns about targeting one company for violating standards that other apps and social-media companies have done as well.”

Meanwhile, the bill has drawn support from Senate Select Committee on Intelligence leaders Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), who said in a joint statement last month that they “look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law.”

In addition, Sens. Richard Blumental (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have called on the Biden administration to declassify information that lawmakers were provided last month about the potential national security risks posed by TikTok.

“As Congress and the Administration consider steps to address TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government, it is critically important that the American people, especially TikTok users, understand the national security issues at stake,” the pair said in a joint statement on March 21.