The Senate Could Pass the TikTok Ban Bill Any Day, but They Haven’t Yet

"I'll support common sense bipartisan steps to take one of Beijing's favorite tools of coercion and espionage off the table."


Apr. 22 2024, Updated 12:02 p.m. ET

Mitch McConnell addressing reporters on April 9, 2024
Source: Getty Images

Even if you aren’t a regular TikTok user, you have to feel bad for all the people who love the app and have lived in a constant state of agitation since news first broke years ago that the U.S. government might be considering banning the app altogether. Now, we may be closer to that ban taking effect than ever before.

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As we move toward that possibility, some people are wondering whether a ban on TikTok has already passed the Senate. Here’s the current state of play.

The TikTok logo on a black phone screen.
Source: Getty Images
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Did the Senate pass the TikTok ban bill?

First, let's back up a bit.

The bill was first passed in an accelerated manner through the House of Representatives in March. It was designed as a response to concerns that data about American users on TikTok could be acquired by the Chinese government and used to some nefarious end or another.

The legislation wouldn't automatically ban TikTok, but would instead force ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, to sell the company to maintain access to U.S. servers and app stores.

On April 9, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out publicly in favor of the legislation, leading many to think that the bill will likely pass.

"Requiring the divestment of Beijing-influenced entities from TikTok would land squarely within established constitutional precedent," McConnell said in a statement, later adding: "... This is the matter that deserves Congress' urgent attention, and I'll support common sense bipartisan steps to take one of Beijing's favorite tools of coercion and espionage off the table."

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Later that month, the House approved a different version of the bill with significant changes, allowing TikTok around nine months (instead of the previously stated six months) to sell, with the possibility to extend this deadline further if President Biden believes enough headway has been made.

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In addition, the House bundled the TikTok bill within a larger foreign-aid package for the Senate to approve. And because the Senate will likely want to approve foreign aid quickly, this could make it harder for lawmakers to oppose the TikTok-related part of the bill, as any proposed changes would have to go back to the House, meaning more delay.

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The bill isn't guaranteed to become law.

While TikTok fans are understandably concerned about the bill going into effect, its path through the Senate remains unclear. But whatever ultimately happens, it appears that the ban isn't imminent. If it makes it to President Biden’s desk, though, he has indicated that he will sign it into law.

We'll have to wait and see whether the bill will make it through the Senate. Do politicians from both parties think that it’s a good election-year issue to run on or something that would be better left until 2025? TikTok’s fate is very much still up in the air, which conversely means that there is still time to shape the outcome by telling your elected officials how they should vote.

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