Momentum against TikTok is brewing in Congress. House Republicans are marking up legislation to empower President Biden to ban the popular app.
The U.S. government’s security review of TikTok has dragged on for years, and lawmakers are growing impatient to appear strong against potential Chinese threats.
While Republicans want the app banned, some top Democrats do not expect the bill to gain broad bipartisan support.
The Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act (DATA Act) is being marked up in the Foreign Affairs Committee this week.
The legislation would loosen restrictions on the president’s ability to regulate or ban imports of “informational materials” under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act aimed at safeguarding the free exchange of ideas.
It would give Biden the authority to ban TikTok.
The bill would likely pass the Republican-controlled House easily. Its fate in the Democratic majority Senate is unclear.
Typically, a bill this new, with only one sponsor, would not move to committee votes just days after it was introduced. But the choice of which bills will advance through a committee is made by each committee’s chairman. Therefore, sponsorship by the committee’s newly seated Republican chairman, Texas Rep. Mike McCaul, is effectively all the bill needs.
“Currently the courts have questioned the administration’s authority to sanction TikTok. My bill empowers the administration to ban TikTok or any software applications that threaten U.S. national security,” said McCaul.
The bill needs substantial bipartisan support to pass the Senate.
Despite the bitter divisions between the two parties on nearly every major issue, there is one thing both Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly support: proactive measures to stem China’s growing global influence. And H.R. 1153 could do that.
Democrats don’t see bipartisan support for the bill happening. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on Foreign Affairs, expects Democrats both on the committee and in the Senate will oppose it.
Congress has already restricted its staffers’ use of TikTok on government devices.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is expected to roll out his own TikTok bill soon that could also empower bans on other Chinese companies.