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Latest version of House TikTok bill gets crucial support in Senate

Washington — Sen. Maria Cantwell, a key senator who has held up legislation regulating TikTok endorsed the House’s latest version of a measure that could lead to a ban of the social media app in the U.S. 

Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, announced her support late Wednesday for an updated measure that would force TikTok’s Chinese parent company to divest of the widely popular short-form video platform within one year. 

The legislation is included in House Speaker Mike Johnson’s four-part foreign aid plan, which also involves wartime assistance for Ukraine and Israel. The updated version extends the six-month window ByteDance would have to sell its stake in the company or lose access to app stores and web-hosting services in the U.S. to nine months, with the possibility of a three-month extension. 

Cantwell, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, opposed the original version of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which sailed through the House in March with bipartisan support but has faced headwinds in the slower-moving Senate over a number of concerns.  Modifying the divestment deadline alleviated at least one of those issues.  

“I’m very happy that Speaker Johnson and House leaders incorporated my recommendation to extend the ByteDance divestment period from six months to a year,” Cantwell said in a statement. “As I’ve said, extending the divestment period is necessary to ensure there is enough time for a new buyer to get a deal done. I support the updated legislation.” 

A spokesperson for Cantwell did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the senator’s other concerns have been addressed in the updated bill, including whether it could survive legal scrutiny. 

Cantwell told reporters Thursday afternoon she didn’t believe any other changes were made to the legislation, but there could be more in the future. 

“We could look at things down the road, but for now, we support what they’re doing,” she said. 

Support from Cantwell clears one hurdle that other TikTok-related measures have failed to overcome. But some lawmakers have questioned the bill’s constitutionality, making it likely other issues could emerge. 

The updated bill included in the plan unveiled by Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, earlier this week pairs the forced TikTok divestment with new sanctions on Iran, China and Russia. The three remaining bills would provide $26 billion to support Israel, $61 billion to bolster Ukraine and $8 billion to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. 

Alan He contributed reporting. 

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