Updated Mar 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House passes bill that could lead to TikTok ban

Illustration of the US Capitol dome piercing a smart phone. The Capitol has pink and blue strokes in the colors and style of TikTok's logo.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The House on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill that would force China-based ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban in the U.S.

Why it matters: Lawmakers passed the bill in a 352-65-1 vote, raising the stakes in a battle that imperils the app for its millions of users across the country.

  • The legislation has moved fast. It was introduced last week and the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to advance it to the floor just days later.
  • But it lacks a companion bill in the Senate, where lawmakers are still weighing the measure.

State of play: Ahead of the vote, House lawmakers met with intelligence officials on Tuesday for a classified briefing on the bill's national security concerns.

  • Several walked out unconvinced, saying no concerns specific to TikTok were raised.
  • Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), speaking later Tuesday in front of a crowd of TikTok creators on the Hill, said he'd "like to see ownership of TikTok change" but "this bill is not the way to achieve what we're looking to get because it will affect American life for so many people."
  • Some members also complained the legislative process was rushed, but that didn't stop the bill from passing with broad bipartisan support.

What's next: Now comes an uphill climb in the Senate.

  • Any attempt to fast-track the bill in the upper chamber would likely be blocked by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who views the legislation as unconstitutional.
  • But in a major coup for the House, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — the top two senators on the Intelligence Committee — issued a statement Wednesday supporting the bill.
  • "We were encouraged by today's strong bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, and look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law," the senators said.

Between the lines: Warner and Rubio are backing the House bill despite having their own legislation to try to address TikTok national security concerns.

  • "I think the approach we had a year ago is not going to make it," Warner told Axios about his bill to crack down on TikTok, the RESTRICT Act.
  • Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) also has her own TikTok bill, the GUARD Act. She said she is not considering being a co-sponsor of the House bill and hasn't met with its sponsors.

Reality check: It's a big deal how fast the bill moved through the House. But there's a very long road ahead before the millions of Americans on the app might see any impact.

  • Even if the bill forcing the sale within 165 days eventually passes the Senate and is signed into law, it will likely be taken to court immediately.

Go deeper: Inside Trump's TikTok flip-flop

Go deeper