The TikTok bill will be combined with aid to Ukraine and Israel, the speaker of the House indicates

The House made another push Wednesday to push through legislation that would require the sale of TikTok by its Chinese owner or ban the app in the United States, accelerating efforts to disrupt the popular social media app.

President Mike Johnson has indicated he plans to package the measure, a modified version of a standalone bill passed by the House last month, with foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

While the new legislation would still require TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app to owners who have resolved national security concerns, it includes an option to extend the sale deadline to nine months from the original six months , according to the text of the law. legislation enacted by House leadership. The president could extend the deadline another 90 days if progress was made toward the sale.

House lawmakers are expected to vote Saturday on a legislative package that includes the TikTok ban and other bills popular with Republicans, a ploy intended to get lawmakers to vote in favor of foreign aid. If the package passes, the measures will be sent in a single bill to the Senate, which could vote soon after. President Biden has said he will sign the TikTok legislation into law if it reaches his desk.

The move “to package TikTok is definitely unusual, but it could be successful,” said Paul Gallant, a political analyst at financial services firm TD Cowen. He added that “it's a kind of brinkmanship” to try to force a vote for or against without further negotiations with the Senate.

The new effort is the most aggressive yet by lawmakers to wrest TikTok from its Chinese ownership on national security grounds. They cite the possibility of Beijing demanding TikTok hand over U.S. user data or use the app for propaganda. The previous House bill met with skepticism in the Senate due to concerns that it would not withstand a legal challenge.

TikTok has said national security concerns are unfair and that it has spent more than $1 billion on a detailed plan for its U.S. operations that would block user data and offer third-party oversight of its advice on contents.

TikTok has a significant influence on culture and politics and is used by 170 million people every month in the United States. The company said it has nearly 7,000 employees in the United States.

TikTok rejected the divestment call and said the bill would ban the app.

“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of major foreign and humanitarian aid to once again block a ban bill,” Alex Haurek, a spokesperson for the company, said in a statement Wednesday. He said the bill would harm the free speech rights of 170 million Americans and seven million small businesses and eliminate a company that has contributed billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the Democratic chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement that she was “very pleased that President Johnson and House leaders have incorporated my recommendation to extend ByteDance's divestment period” and to support “updated legislation”. “

Uncertainty over the Senate's adoption of legislation passed by the House in March triggered aggressive lobbying in the Senate and weeks of pressure on senators to advance the bill. By combining TikTok legislation with high-profile aid for Ukraine and Israel, House leaders could force the Senate's hand.

If the measure becomes law, it will likely face weeks or months of legal challenges. Federal judges blocked a 2020 attempt by President Donald J. Trump to ban TikTok or force its sale. Last year, a federal judge temporarily blocked a state TikTok ban from taking effect in Montana, preventing the first such ban nationwide.

Other challenges remain, including the possibility that Beijing could block the sale of TikTok. The app is expected to have a high retail price that would be out of reach for many possible buyers.

The campaign to force the sale of TikTok has united lawmakers and administration officials who share their national security concerns. The White House said it provided assistance to lawmakers in drafting legislation passed by the House in March.

Officials from the Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Office of the Director of National Intelligence informed House and Senate lawmakers of their concerns, adding fuel to the effort to pass the bill. Parts of those briefings are still classified.

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