May 20, 2024

The House on Wednesday passed a bill with broad bipartisan support that would force TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell the hugely popular video app or be banned in the United States. The move escalates a showdown between Beijing and Washington over the control of technologies that could affect national security, free speech and the social media industry.

Republican leaders fast-tracked the bill through the House with limited debate, and it passed on a lopsided vote of 352-65, reflecting widespread backing for legislation that would take direct aim at China in an election year.

The action came despite TikTok’s efforts to mobilize its 170 million U.S. users against the measure, and amid the Biden administration’s push to persuade lawmakers that Chinese ownership of the platform poses grave national security risks to the United States.

The result was a bipartisan coalition behind the measure that included Republicans, who defied former President Donald J. Trump in supporting it, and Democrats, who also fell in line behind a bill that President Biden has said he would sign.

The bill faces a difficult road to passage in the Senate, where Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has been noncommittal about bringing it to the floor for a vote and where some lawmakers have vowed to fight it.

TikTok has been under threat since 2020, with lawmakers increasingly arguing that Beijing’s relationship with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, raises national security risks. The bill is aimed at getting ByteDance to sell TikTok to non-Chinese owners within six months. The president would sign off on the sale if it resolved national security concerns. If that sale did not happen, the app would be banned.

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