Bipartisan bill to force Bytedance to divest its stake in TikTok headed to House floor for vote

The legislation passed 50-0 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Legislators are concerned about the possible misuse of the popular app by the Chinese government.

A bipartisan bill to force the Chinese company Bytedance to divest its stake in TikTok within 165 days before a ban on the popular smartphone application takes effect in the U.S. is headed to the House floor for vote as early as Wednesday.

The legislation had passed 50-0 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act is a bipartisan piece of legislation that will protect American national security," Rep. Richie Torres, D-N.Y., wrote on his X account after the vote.

Former President Trump had attempted to ban TikTok when he was in office but it ultimately didn't come to fruition. Trump's rhetoric on banning the app in the U.S. has softened.

"There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad with TikTok. But the thing I don’t like is, without TikTok you can make Facebook bigger. And I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people, along with the media,” Trump said on Monday.

Kellyanne Conway, former advisor in the White House during the Trump administration, is reportedly advocating against passage of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which could lead to a TikTok ban in the U.S. She's been meeting with lawmakers to persuade them not to support bill that's headed toward a floor vote.

“Why would the GOP wish to be seen as the party of ‘bans’ when Biden is the one banning things: gas stoves, fossil fuels, menthol cigarettes and vapes?” Conway said a statement, according to POLITICO.

Despite the opposition from Trump and Conway, many Republicans are on board with passing the bill.

"TikTok will have to make a choice as to whether or not they stay connected to ByteDance and ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, or if they choose to sell and operate in the United States," Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said, according to a CNBC report.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, emphasized that the bill doesn’t immediately shut down TikTok.

"The world we all want to live in — and I think the world Trump would want to live in particularly if he’s the one that gets to consummate the deal — is the one in which ByteDance divests from TikTok and then TikTok is sold to an American or a joint American and allied constellation of companies,” Gallagher said.  

Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said the American public "should all be deeply concerned about national security threats" that are posed by TikTok.

"Allowing the Chinese Communist Party to control the content on an app that millions of Americans use gives them undue influence on our public square. TikTok must decouple from ByteDance," he said.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has predicted that the bill is going to pass in the GOP-led House. It would then move to the Democratic-led Senate for consideration.

In the meantime, congressional offices have been flooded with calls from constituents urging their representatives not to support the bill that could lead to a ban on the app in the U.S. Some of the callers have reportedly even threatened to harm themselves if the bill passes.

"It’s so so bad. Our phones have not stopped ringing. They’re teenagers and old people saying they spend their whole day on the app and we cant [sic] take it away," a GOP congressional staffer said, according to Politico.