House passes bill that could ban TikTok in the U.S., sending it to the Senate

WASHINGTON — The House voted Wednesday to pass legislation that could ban TikTok in the U.S. as Republicans and Democrats alike sound the alarm that the popular video-sharing app, owned by a China-based company, is a national security threat.

The vote was 352-65, with one member, Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, voting present. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain fate and there appears to be less urgency to act.

Follow along for live updates

“Communist China is America’s largest geopolitical foe and is using technology to actively undermine America’s economy and security,” Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said in a statement after the vote, warning that TikTok could be used to access American data and spread “harmful” information.

“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.”

Fifty Democrats and 15 Republicans voted against the bill. Among them were progressives like Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., a Senate candidate, as well as conservatives like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who lamented that she had previously been banned from social media.

The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., was a surprising no vote. He also cited free speech issues with the bill.

Adversaries like China “shut down newspapers, broadcast stations, and social media platforms. We do not,” Himes said in a statement. “We trust our citizens to be worthy of their democracy. We do not trust our government to decide what information they may or may not see.”

TikTok, owned by China-based parent company ByteDance, has mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign to kill the legislation, arguing that it would violate the First Amendment rights of its 170 million U.S. users and harm thousands of small businesses that rely on it. “This process was secret and the bill was jammed through for one reason: it’s a ban,” the company said on X.

Paul Tran, who, with his wife, has a skin care company called Love and Pebble, protested at a pro-TikTok rally outside the Capitol on Tuesday, with a message for members: “You will be destroying small businesses like us; this is our livelihood. We’ve created success.”

He said their business nearly shut down last year until TikTok Shop came along and “totally exploded our business.” Now 90% of their business comes from the app, he said.

“If you pass this bill,” Tran said, “you will be destroying the American Dream that we really believe in.”

Despite that push, the bill sailed through the House, raising pressure on the Democratic-led Senate to act. President Joe Biden, whose 2024 campaign joined TikTok last month, has said that if the bill reaches his desk, he will sign it into law.

Its backers say it’s wrong to call the legislation an outright ban. Dubbed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, the bill would create a process for the president — through the FBI and intelligence agencies — to designate certain social media applications under the control of foreign adversaries, like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, as national security threats.

Once an app was deemed a risk, it would be banned from online app stores and web-hosting services unless it severed ties with entities under control of the foreign adversary within 180 days of the designation. That means TikTok, which FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified poses a risk to national security, could face a ban unless ByteDance acted quickly to divest it.

“What we’re after is a separation from TikTok from its parent company, ByteDance, and by extension CCP,” the bill’s author, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chairman of the select committee investigating the Chinese Communist Party, said Tuesday as he left a classified all-House briefing about the dangers of TikTok. “And in that world, TikTok users can continue to use the platform. In fact, I think it would allow for a better user experience.”

U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials worry the Chinese government could use TikTok to access personal data from its millions of users and use algorithms to show them videos that could influence their views, including in the coming presidential election. Testifying before Congress a year ago, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew denied that the Chinese government controls the app and pushed back against suggestions that China accesses U.S. user data.

Asked about the bill before Wednesday’s vote, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that “despite the lack of evidence proving TikTok poses a threat to US national security, the U.S. has continued to suppress TikTok.”

“This practice of resorting to bullying tactics when unable to win in fair competition disrupts normal business operations, damages international investors’ confidence in the investment environment, and undermines the normal international economic and trade order, ultimately harming the U.S. itself,” he continued.

In writing the bill, Gallagher teamed up with the top Democrat on the China panel, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, who consulted with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., an outspoken critic of China’s human rights violations throughout her long career.

“My concern is about what TikTok has done in Taiwan, saying that the Uyghurs love their genocide and the people of Hong Kong love their voter suppression,” Pelosi told reporters.

But she added: “We want TikTok to exist; we’re not here to ban it. I’ve said we want to make it Tik-Tok-Toe. We want to make it something that is not a fearful social media platform but one that is very positive. And in order to do that, we have to see the divesting of it from the Chinese government having custodial possession of the data. … Who controls the algorithm controls all of it. … It is a national security issue. And it’s a personal security issue.”

The multibillion-dollar social media behemoth’s presence was everywhere on Capitol Hill ahead of the House vote. TikTok users got pop-ups on the app urging them to call their local representatives, as well as push notifications saying: “Help stop the TikTok shutdown.”

Outside the Capitol, a handful of young House Democrats — Robert Garcia and Sarah Jacobs of California, Maxwell Frost of Florida and Delia Ramirez of Illinois — rallied alongside TikTok creators to express their opposition to the bill.

Frost, 27, called himself a “hell no” on the bill and predicted that if the vote had been delayed by a week, opposition would have grown.

JT Laybourne, one of the creators, said he is “disgusted” to hear lawmakers mocking TikTok and the creators on it because millions of small businesses rely on it.

“My voice is on TikTok. My purpose is on TikTok. That’s it. We can’t let this happen,” Laybourne pleaded.

First appeared on

Leave a Comment