Bill that could ban TikTok is closer to becoming law

(The Hill) – Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) announced her support Wednesday for a bipartisan bill that would force TikTok’s Chinese parent company to sell the app or face a ban in the U.S. after it was updated to extend the period of time for the sale.

The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversarial Controlled Applications Act passed the House in a broad bipartisan vote in March, just a week after it was introduced. Support from the Commerce Committee chair clears a path for it to proceed in the upper chamber.  

“I’m very happy that Speaker [Mike] Johnson [R-La.] and House leaders incorporated my recommendation to extend the ByteDance divestment period from six months to a year. 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. I support this updated legislation,” Cantwell said in a statement Wednesday evening.  

Is TikTok going to be banned in the US?

The tweak amends one of the concerns critics raised about the bill, specifically that it gave a short time frame for TikTok’s parent company to sell the app before it would be banned.  

But other lawmakers have raised different concerns that still could emerge as the legislation goes forward. Some progressive Democrats criticized the bill as infringing on users’ free speech rights.  

The update to the bill was made as part of a package of legislation House GOP leaders unveiled Wednesday. In addition to including the forced TikTok sale provision, the legislation also includes new sanctions on Iran, military aide to Ukraine aide in the form of a forgivable loan and a provision to give the federal government authority to use seized Russian assets to pay for the costs of Ukrainian reconstruction.  

Called the “21st Century Act,” the bill is the fourth piece of a larger foreign-aide package that the House is expected to consider one at a time in a vote on Saturday.  

TikTok has pushed back strongly on the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversarial Controlled Applications Act and has denied accusations that the app poses national security threats.  

If the bill were to pass, President Biden said he would sign it into law.  

However, even if it becomes law, a potential ban may be blocked in court. Other attempts to ban the app by the former Trump administration and states have been stifled in federal court.

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