Apr 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Johnson jams Schumer on TikTok ban

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) speak to one another during remarks at the Capitol

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Even as he fights for his political life, House Speaker Mike Johnson is on the verge of forcing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's hand on TikTok.

Why it matters: Johnson's move means the possibility of a U.S. ban on TikTok is now more real than ever, potentially forcing the Senate to quit stalling on the measure.

  • The House is set to vote on a national security emergency spending package this weekend, which — like the package passed by the Senate in February — would provide billions of dollars of aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific.
  • But this version would also force the Chinese-owned Bytedance to divest from TikTok or face a ban of the social media app in the U.S.

Catch up quick: The TikTok measure closely mirrors a bill the House passed last month with overwhelming bipartisan support.

  • Disagreement among senior Senate Democrats and a full-court-press lobbying effort by TikTok stalled the bill's momentum.
  • Schumer has kept his powder dry on the issue, but Johnson plans to attach a similar measure to the must-pass foreign aid package.
  • The new House bill extends the time that ByteDance could have to divest from TikTok, as Axios Pro first reported.

The big picture: Key Senate Democrats have signaled support for passing the TikTok bill, refusing to hold up aid to Ukraine and Israel over the issue any longer.

  • Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), had been a key roadblock for the House-passed TikTok bill, but said on Wednesday that she supports the updated version that gives Bytedance more time.
  • "I think extending it to a year makes sense — a transaction this complicated takes time," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a top proponent of the TikTok ban, told Axios of the changes to the bill.
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told Axios that while he thinks "we would be much better off regulating all social medias," the TikTok restrictions "would not likely be a reason for me to reconsider my support for the package."
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