House expected to vote on bill that could ban TikTok amid Trump resistance

By Clare Foran, Brian Fung and Haley Talbot, CNN

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that could lead to a nationwide ban against TikTok, a major challenge to one of the world’s most popular social media apps that comes as former President Donald Trump has signaled opposition to a ban.

The bill would prohibit TikTok from US app stores unless the social media platform — used by roughly 170 million Americans — is spun off from its China-linked parent company, ByteDance.

Lawmakers supportive of the bill have argued TikTok poses a national security threat because the Chinese government could use its intelligence laws against ByteDance, forcing it to hand over the data of US app users.

The measure is coming up for a vote under an expedited process that requires a two-thirds majority for passage, which means it is likely to pass with widespread bipartisan support. It’s not yet clear what the fate of the legislation will be in the Senate.

TikTok is fighting back and calling the legislation an attack on the constitutional right to freedom of expression for its users. It launched a call-to-action campaign within the app, urging users to call representatives in Washington to oppose the bill. Multiple congressional offices have said they’ve been flooded with calls.

The bill would give ByteDance roughly five months to sell TikTok. If not divested by that time, it would be illegal for app store operators such as Apple and Google to make it available for download.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the measure advanced unanimously out of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, and President Joe Biden has said he would sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

The vote may put some Republicans in an uncomfortable spot, however, as Trump has pushed back on the possibility of a ban in recent days, though the House GOP has forged ahead with the vote in spite of Trump’s position.

Trump pushes back on potential TikTok ban

When Trump was president, he supported calls to ban the app, but he appears to have now backed away from that stance, though his rhetoric has at times sent seemingly mixed messages.

In a post on Truth Social last week, Trump expressed opposition to a ban, arguing that if TikTok were out of the picture, Facebook would benefit as he attacked Facebook and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg as an “Enemy of the People.”

In a Monday interview with CNBC, Trump said it was a “tough decision” whether the US should ban TikTok and continued to argue that getting rid of it would benefit Facebook, adding that he thought, “Facebook has been very bad for our country.”

Trump said he thought TikTok posed a national security threat to the US but said, “You have that problem with Facebook and lots of other companies too,” and “There are a lot of people on TikTok that love it.”

“There’s, you know, a lot of good, and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok,” Trump said.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who support the bill have argued that it is not a ban.

In recent comments to reporters, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs a House select committee on China, rejected characterizations of the bill as a TikTok ban.

“It’s not a ban,” he said. “It puts the choice squarely in the hands of TikTok to sever their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. As long as ByteDance no longer owns the company, TikTok can continue to survive. … the basic ownership structure has to change.”

TikTok has pushed back on claims from lawmakers that the legislation would provide options for the app.

“This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States,” the company wrote in a post on X. “The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression. This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, has attempted to schedule 11th-hour meetings with members of Congress. The company also sent letters to multiple House lawmakers on Monday accusing them of mischaracterizing TikTok’s call-to-action campaign, saying it is “offensive” for lawmakers to dismiss the views of constituents who have overwhelmed congressional offices with phone calls.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday would not commit to holding a vote on the House’s TikTok bill, underscoring the uncertainty over what will happen if the House passes the bill as expected.

“Let’s see what the House does,” he said. “I’ll have to consult and intend to consult with my relevant committee chairmen to see what their views would be.”

CNN’s Kate Sullivan, Morgan Rimmer and Lauren Fox contributed.

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