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House passes TikTok sale bill

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 vote, with one voting present, re-energizing a battle that could impact 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, 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, who views the legislation as unconstitutional.
  • Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio endorsed the legislation after the vote.
  • "We are 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 Senate Intel Chair and Vice Chair said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Between the lines: Warner and Rubio are engaging with the House bill, the leading proposal at the moment, 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.
  • "It is kind of wild to see almost many of the exact same critiques that were made against our effort, most of them equally untrue," Warner said about the House bill.
  • Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell 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.
  • Cantwell said she's still working on her legislation and aligning the different agencies that would be involved.

The other side: "This process was secret and the bill was jammed through for one reason: it's a ban. We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to their constituents, and realize the impact on the economy," TikTok said in a statement.

Next week the House will consider a bipartisan data brokers bill, Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone said today on the floor.

Reality check: It's a big deal how fast this TikTok 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.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Warner and Rubio's statement after the vote, as well as TikTok's response.

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