The Impending Fate of TikTok: Navigating the Complexities of U.S. Legislation

Published On: April 18th, 2024Categories: TikTokBy

The Impending Fate of TikTok: Navigating the Complexities of U.S. Legislation

The pressure is mounting on TikTok as the U.S. Senate moves swiftly to advance a proposed bill that could compel the company into U.S. ownership due to concerns over national security. This initiative stems from a recent bill introduced by U.S. senators, specifically targeting TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. 

The bill aims to address security apprehensions arising from foreign ownership of social media apps, with the primary goal of safeguarding U.S. user data from potential exploitation by the Chinese government. Following its passage by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and subsequently by the House of Representatives, the bill is now awaiting a Senate vote, with President Biden indicating his intention to approve it if it reaches his desk. 

Senators have made notable strides this week in moving the bill forward by integrating the TikTok proposal into a larger foreign assistance package, potentially hastening its approval. Why bundle TikTok with foreign aid? The straightforward explanation is that it streamlines the process. Initially, House lawmakers approved the TikTok legislation as a separate bill, but its passage in the Senate requires either committee approval or a floor vote by leadership.

According to The Washington Post, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has signaled his intent to impede the bill from being brought to the Senate floor through unanimous consent. This means that Senate leaders may need to allocate considerable time either in committee sessions or during floor debates to discuss the TikTok legislation, a task that could pose challenges given the proximity to the 2024 elections.

To navigate these obstacles, House legislators have opted to include the TikTok legislation in a bundle of funding bills designated to provide aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. This move enjoys bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and has garnered approval from the White House, potentially facilitating the process of finalizing the TikTok deal.

The recently introduced bill, named the 21st Century Peace Through Strength Act, or H.R. 8038, not only encompasses provisions related to TikTok but also grants the president the authority to impose new sanctions on Russia and Iran. The bundled package is expected to compel action on the proposal, with the Senate expected to decide on TikTok’s fate in the U.S. within weeks. 

“Unfortunately, the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans,” TikTok said in a statement posted on X.

It’s important to note that even if the bill is passed, TikTok would still have nearly a year to devise a divestment plan and negotiate a deal with a U.S. owner for the app. However, complications may arise as the Chinese government has expressed opposition to the sale of the app, which could hinder TikTok’s transition into American ownership. Despite TikTok’s objection to the bill, its continued insistence that the bill equates to a ban has not garnered favor with U.S. politicians. 

The outcome remains uncertain, as the bill must pass the Senate, where some Republican Senators have signaled opposition to a ban. However, the bill’s inclusion in broader proposals enhances its prospects of passage, potentially leading to its enactment. Should it be passed, TikTok’s availability in the U.S. may be limited to another year, allowing the company and the Chinese government to reassess their positions.

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