House GOP Advances TikTok Legislation Despite Trump’s Objections

In an assertive move, House Republicans are advancing with plans for a floor vote on Wednesday concerning a bill that aims to prohibit TikTok in the United States unless the social media platform severs ties with its Chinese parent company. This legislative push persists despite former President Donald Trump expressing reservations about the bill.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, remains optimistic about the bill’s passage. She minimizes the significance of the former President’s opposition by reminding that Trump himself had previously endorsed actions to regulate the app, highlighting the continuity of concern regarding TikTok as a national security risk.

Rodgers emphasized, “This aligns with the efforts Donald Trump initiated during his presidency. He identified TikTok as a national security threat, and our actions today are a continuation of addressing that ongoing threat. I encourage him to review the bill closely.”

In response to TikTok’s vigorous lobbying against the bill, supporters have initiated a strategic counter-campaign. This includes organizing a classified briefing for all House members to discuss the app’s potential national security implications, scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m.

During a House GOP whip meeting on Monday night, McMorris Rodgers briefed on the bill, although there’s no formal whip effort since the bill will be presented under suspension of the rules, necessitating a two-thirds majority for approval.

McMorris Rodgers stated, “This briefing offers members a chance to hear directly from the Department of Justice and other intelligence agencies about the perceived threats posed by apps under foreign control. We’re diligently working to address concerns and garner further support.”

Representative Morgan Griffith of Virginia, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, noted, “Those attending the briefings will gain insights that the former president currently lacks access to.”

Representative Jeff Duncan, a member of both the Freedom Caucus and the Energy and Commerce Committee, has made efforts to enlighten Trump’s team about the bill’s intentions, emphasizing the ownership of TikTok by ByteDance and its ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Representative Greg Pence of Indiana is also working to dispel misconceptions about the bill, which stipulates a 165-day period for ByteDance to divest TikTok or face a ban from U.S. app stores. He clarified that the bill does not necessitate American ownership but simply prohibits ownership by foreign adversaries.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise expressed confidence in the bill’s passage in the House, though its fate in the Senate remains uncertain. However, Scalise has engaged in discussions with senators showing interest in the legislation.

Amid these developments, TikTok CEO Shou Chew is attempting to arrange meetings with senators, facing challenges in securing some of these meetings, as reported by a source familiar with the matter.

As the House Republicans continue their educational campaign on the bill, a core group of senators has shown support or openness towards the House bill. This legislative effort reflects a broader concern over data privacy and national security in relation to foreign-owned apps, underscoring the ongoing debate over the balance between innovation and security.