TikTok ban's fate is uncertain in the Senate, where there is less urgency to act

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WASHINGTON — The House-passed measure that could prohibition TikTok faces an uncertain early successful nan Senate, wherever location is little urgency to enactment and senators person different theories astir really to reside nationalist information concerns astir nan app's China-based owner.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said nan Senate is improbable to judge nan House measure arsenic is and called for an unfastened amendment process to make changes to it.

“I deliberation it’s much than apt that we will return up their measure and amend it and opportunity we’ve travel up pinch immoderate areas wherever we deliberation it needs improvement,” said Cornyn. “My interest is that if you effort to woody pinch this by name, you’re playing a crippled of Whack a Mole, because what’s TikTok today, adjacent week it’s TokTik aliases TicTak aliases whatever.”

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He added that nan Senate won't enactment arsenic quickly arsenic nan House did.

“We do things slow complete here, and this takes time,” Cornyn said.

The enclosure will require 60 votes to break a filibuster and senators person a scope of concerns. Many opportunity nan nationalist information threat posed by TikTok is urgent, and immoderate are consenting to support nan House bill. Others want a broader attack that encompasses various foreign-controlled apps alternatively than targeting 1 company. Yet others interest that China will activity to retaliate against nan U.S.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was noncommittal connected whether nan Senate would ballot connected nan House bill, telling reporters connected Tuesday, “I’ll person to consult, and intend to consult, pinch my applicable committee chairmen to spot what their views would be.”

One of those chairs, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs nan Senate Commerce Committee, said, “I’m not judge what we’ll do yet, sewage to talk to tons of people.”

“The full constituent present is you person a dilemma,” Cantwell said. “You want free speech, but you besides want nan United States to person immoderate expertise to protect US citizens aliases U.S. subject from overseas actors who mightiness beryllium deleterious successful what they would beryllium utilizing arsenic a instrumentality of communication. So we want to get a instrumentality to those people, whether that’s nan Department of Commerce aliases DOJ truthful that they tin prolong those actions.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill, nan Judiciary Committee chair, acknowledged that a prohibition connected TikTok whitethorn not beryllium politically beneficial for President Joe Biden’s re-election successful November. The Biden run joined TikTok past month to meet voters "where they are," though nan president has said he would motion nan prohibition authorities if it passes some chambers of Congress.

“Cutting retired a ample group of young voters is not nan best-known strategy for reelection,” Durbin said. 

“They emotion TikTok, I cognize that from my ain grandkids and others. And it’s portion of their manner and they don’t want to suffer it,” he added.

But concerns astir China perchance accessing U.S. users' information done TikTok aliases spreading contented connected nan app to power Americans' views person resonated pinch galore members of Congress.

Supporters of nan measure disregard nan word “ban,” saying that TikTok would only hap if its China-based proprietor ByteDance refuses to divest nan societal app. The measure would create a process for nan president to deem a societal media app nether nan power of a overseas adversary arsenic a nationalist information threat and past prohibition it from U.S. app stores wrong 6 months unless nan app severs ties pinch that country.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he’d beryllium “inclined to support” nan House bill, and said caller information briefings look to person moved lawmakers toward restricting TikTok.

“The much we know, nan much frightening TikTok becomes,” he said. “Not conscionable successful position of its effect connected young people, pinch nan TikTok situation and each nan bad worldly retired there, but nan information postulation and surveillance that’s ongoing. The acheronian broadside of nan satellite is bigger than we thought.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, said he’s worried that China could effort and retaliate connected U.S. firms.

“I’m sympathetic to what they’re trying to accomplish, I deliberation my main interest is to make judge that we deliberation it through,” Tillis said, “We person to support successful mind that immoderate of nan existent giants successful this abstraction are U.S.-based firms. And we tin deliberation astir China’s retaliation, that’s 1 point I interest about.”

“I’m not overly concerned pinch TikTok’s well-being because I deliberation China is successful their DNA,” Tillis added, “So possibly they should return actions themselves truthful that we don’t person to.”

Asked astir nan measure earlier Wednesday’s vote, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin pushed backmost connected nan measure and legislature rhetoric Wednesday, telling reporters that nan U.S. lacks "evidence proving TikTok poses a threat to U.S. nationalist security" and accused Americans of "resorting to bullying strategies erstwhile incapable to triumph successful adjacent competition."

ByteDance is taxable to Chinese rule that requires it to manus complete accusation if asked by nan government, which could see TikTok personification data.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he vociferously objects to a TikTok ban, citing First and Fifth Amendment concerns.

“The lengths immoderate successful Congress will spell to for much authority and power complete Americans’ state of reside ne'er ceases to amaze me," Paul tweeted.

He earned a response connected X from Elon Musk: “Sounds for illustration location is overmuch much to beryllium concerned astir successful this measure than who owns TikTok!”

Paul told NBC News he has beardown law concerns astir nan bill. “180 cardinal Americans usage it, you can’t conscionable return distant nan correct to definitive themselves because you don’t for illustration a company," he said. Fifth Amendment says you can’t return someone’s spot without owed process. And a measure of attainder says you can’t constitute authorities against 1 personification aliases 1 company. Those are beautiful beardown arguments.”

“It’s based connected a hysteria of banning everything China, which I deliberation isn’t good,” he added.

Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, and Ed Markey, of Massachusetts, who person some utilized TikTok previously, said they’d alternatively spot Congress tackle authorities that protects children online than attraction connected banning 1 societal media platform.

“Any chat astir TikTok has to impact each nan different companies who are targeting each these teenagers and causing nan biggest intelligence wellness situation successful our country’s history," Markey said. 

TikTok has "some awesome things for kids and it’s sewage immoderate really unspeakable things for kids,” Murphy said. “I would overmuch alternatively modulate nan societal media manufacture to protect kids alternatively than prohibition 1 peculiar technology.”

Murphy added that he hasn’t made a determination connected whether he’ll support nan House’s bill, but said he’s unfastened to it.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., joked pinch reporters that TikTok has made him walk excessively overmuch money astatine Sephora for his daughter, calling nan app “trash.”

“I’ve spent hundreds of dollars connected Drunk Elephant astatine Sephora because of my tween, and that’s annoying,” he said. 

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., predicted Congress would enactment connected TikTok.

“I deliberation it’ll beryllium banned," he said. "It’s toxic.”

Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is simply a elder nationalist governmental newsman for NBC News.

Frank Thorp V

Frank Thorp V is simply a shaper and off-air newsman covering Congress for NBC News, managing sum of nan Senate.

Kate Santaliz

Kate Santaliz is an subordinate shaper for NBC News’ Capitol Hill team.

Brennan Leach


Rae Wang