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TikTok bill progress slows in Senate| GuyWhoKnowsThings


Following a bill that would force TikTok's Chinese parent company to sell the app or face a nationwide ban. sailed through the house At breakneck speed this week, its progress has slowed in the Senate.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader who determines what legislation comes up for a vote, has not decided whether to bring the bill to the floor, his spokesman said. Senators, some of whom have their own versions of bills targeting TikTok, will need convincing. Other laws could be given priority over the track. And the process of taking the House bill and potentially rewriting it to accommodate the Senate could take a long time.

Many in the Senate are keeping their cards close to their chest about what they would do with the TikTok measure, even as they said they recognized that the House had sent a powerful signal with its vote on the bill, which passed 352-65. The legislation requires TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, must sell its stake in the app within six months or face a ban.

“The lesson of the House vote is that this issue is able to ignite almost spontaneously in the support it has,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in an interview Friday. He said adjustments could be made to the bill, but there was bipartisan support for wresting the application from Chinese ownership.

The slowdown in the Senate means TikTok is likely to face weeks or even months of uncertainty over its fate in the United States. That could result in continued lobbying, along with maneuvering by the White House, the Chinese government and ByteDance. It's also likely to spark potential talks about deals, whether real or imagined, while the uncertainty of losing access to the app hangs over the heads of TikTok creators and its 170 million American users.

“Almost everything will slow down in the Senate,” said Nu Wexler, a former Senate aide who worked for Google, Twitter and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram. “They will need some time to massage their egos or build consensus.”

The House passed the legislation a little more than a week after it was introduced, passing it with bipartisan support amid concerns that the app could endanger Americans. user data or be used as chinese propaganda tool. The bill also received support from the White House. After saying last week Although he opposed the legislation, former President Donald J. Trump said he now supported it in an interview with Fox News on Friday.

The bill infuriated China, with one official saying the United States had “never found any evidence that TikTok posed a threat to U.S. national security.” Beijing could take steps to block a sale if the legislation passes. Some lawmakers are concerned that the bill could exceed Congress' mandate by specifically mentioning TikTok, violating a constitutional ban on targeting individuals in laws. And TikTok has argued that the secret wording of the bill and the speed with which it passed the House suggested lawmakers were seeking a ban rather than a sale.

TikTok, which has repeatedly said it has not and will not share data with the Chinese government or allow any government to influence its algorithmic recommendations, has been quick to respond to the bill, which caught the company by surprise.

On Wednesday, Shou Chew, TikTok's CEO in Singapore, posted a video aimed at users and said a ban on the service would hurt small businesses in the United States. He urged them to call their senators and fight back. (The company did the same with home representatives last week.)

Tik Tok has spent more than a billion dollars in a sweeping plan known as Project Texas, due to its partnership with Austin-based Oracle, that aims to handle sensitive U.S. user data separately from the rest of the company's operations. The plan also provides for government and independent oversight of the platform to detect manipulations.

On Friday, searching for “KeepTikTok” on the app turned up a sign asking Americans: “Tell your senator how important TikTok is to you.” The message asked users to enter their ZIP codes and then informed them of the correct legislator to call.

“We continue to educate members of our community about the rushed ban bill, how it would trample on their constitutional right to free expression, and how they can make their voices heard,” TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek said in a statement.

Senate offices have received hundreds of phone calls and voicemails about the bill from TikTok users in recent days, said two Senate aides, who were not authorized to discuss the calls publicly. Attendees said many calls appeared to come from minors.

The White House is also pushing behind the scenes, surprising some talent agencies that represent TikTok creators by inviting them to a briefing Friday “on ownership of the social media platform,” according to an email received by two aides. , who spoke on condition of anonymity. because the call was unofficial.

John F. Kirby, the president's national security communications adviser, emphasized that the White House sought a divestiture of TikTok to a group of representatives from talent agencies such as CAA and Viral Nation, aides said. There were several questions about how agency clients and their jobs would be affected by the legislation, they said. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the call.

Congressional experts said the Senate would likely be harder to break because its smaller number of individual members were more likely to try to put their own stamp on legislation. A single member opposing a measure could make it difficult to speed up legislation. And he also needs to consider and pass a major package of spending bills before the deadline for a partial government shutdown.

“I think senators are going to do their due diligence,” said Lindsay Gorman, senior researcher at the German Marshall Fund. “There will be a rigorous conversation about this exact question: whether we simply need to move or whether there is room to make adjustments.”

Some senators have come out in favor of the bill. Intelligence Committee leaders Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement Wednesday that they would support the bill advancing in the Senate.

Warner, who also has his own TikTok proposal, said Wednesday that he was still asking questions about several elements of the bill but was encouraged by the momentum it had coming out of the House.

“There are a lot of bases that need to be touched,” Warner said. But, he added, it was “hard to think of anything else that got more than 350 votes in a House that otherwise would not have had a history of fully functioning.”

Others have been more cautious. Blumenthal said in the interview that the Senate needed to review aspects of the bill, adding that a six-month deadline to reach a sales agreement might not be enough.

He also said he had “heard of several very credible and prominent groups” that were interested in buying TikTok but had not yet been reported on in the press.

“There is a clear path to achieving all interests here: preserve TikTok but simply put it in different hands,” he added.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, is likely to have influence over whether the House legislation gets a vote in the Senate. She said last year that she was drafting her own legislation to deal with TikTok, and has not committed to whether she will support a vote on the House legislation. She said in a statement after it passed the House that she planned to work with colleagues to “try to find a path forward that is constitutional and protects civil liberties.”

A spokeswoman for the Commerce Committee declined to make Cantwell available for an interview.


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