GOP, Democratic senators call for passing bill that could lead to TikTok ban, pressuring Schumer

The White House has also expressed support for the bill but Sen. Schumer hasn't taken a position on the legislation
U.S. flag, China flag, TikTok, Washington, D.C., March 16, 2023

Prominent Senate Democrats and Republicans are calling for the swift passage of a bill that could lead to ban on the popular social media app TikTok. The White House has also expressed support for the bill.

“We will look to the Senate to take swift action,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. "This bill is important, and we welcome ongoing efforts to address the threat posed by certain technology services operating in the United States that put at risk Americans’ personal information and broader national security, including through the manipulation by foreign powers of Americans’ views and beliefs."

House Speaker Mike Johnson also called for the Senate to move rapidly on the bill.

"Communist China is America’s largest geopolitical foe and is using technology to actively undermine America’s economy and security. Apps like TikTok allow the Chinese Communist Party to push harmful content to our youth and engage in malign activities, such as harvesting the location, purchasing habits, contacts, and sensitive data of Americans," he said in a statement after the bill passed the House on Wednesday.

"Today’s bipartisan vote demonstrates Congress’ opposition to Communist China’s attempts to spy on and manipulate Americans, and signals our resolve to deter our enemies. I urge the Senate to pass this bill and send it to the President so he can sign it into law," he added.

The Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act would give ByteDance, the Chinese company that currently owns TikTok, 165 days to divest its stake in the app or face a ban in the U.S.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio, R-Fla., released a joint statement in support of the House-passed bill.

“We are united in our concern about the national security threat posed by TikTok – a platform with enormous power to influence and divide Americans whose parent company ByteDance remains legally required to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party," the lawmakers said. "We were encouraged by today’s strong bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, and look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law."

Not all senators are on board though.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that the Senate "will review the legislation when it comes over from the House."

Warner's office did not respond to a request for comment on whether the senator has spoken to Schumer about putting the bill up for a floor vote.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-K.Y. is among the senators opposed to the legislation. 

"The House ban of TikTok is not securing our nation—it's a disturbing gift of unprecedented authority to President Biden and the Surveillance State that threatens the very core of American digital innovation and free expression," Paul said after the bill passed the House in a bipartisan vote on Wednesday. 

Paul has said that Congress should not be "trying to take away the First Amendment rights of [170] million Americans.”

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., argued that passage of the bill could open the door to the U.S. government coming after U.S. companies in the future.

"The bill wasn't great, okay, because they did it in about two weeks time and crammed it, ran to the floor, so there were some flaws just in the application of the bill itself," he told Just the News on Wednesday. "I believe there are some holes there that will have unintended consequences, where they can perhaps go after maybe even U.S. companies,"

"By and large, if you're going to really accept that China is perhaps our biggest geopolitical adversary, then maybe what you do is you have a more holistic approach, and you come down and you sell it to the entire Congress and the American people, and you do something more than facilitate," Biggs added.

Kellyanne Conway, a Trump White House adviser, has been advocating against passage of a bill on Capitol Hill.

And her ex-boss, former President Trump, expressed opposition to the bill after attempting to ban TikTok while he was in office.

Trump said the bill could empower Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, if it were to lead to a TikTok ban in the U.S.

Conway said on Wednesday that Trump has not been reaching out to GOP lawmakers to generate opposition to the TikTok legislation. 

"His belief [is] that you have a lot of young people on there, a lot of females, a lot of voters who they like it and it's not just for entertainment, maybe it started out that way," Conway said during a healthcare summit hosted by POLITICO.

"TikTok could be a national security threat. There's no question, and I personally want to hold China to account for any number of things. I think we should be holding China to account. But this is where we're starting? We don't have them confirming the the origins of the COVID virus that killed over a million people in this country and many millions more worldwide. We're not trying to get their fentanyl the hell out of our country and our kids' veins."