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Washington Wednesday: Bipartisan coalition calls for banning Tik Tok

Two Michigan representatives, Bergman and McClain, have introduced bills challenging popular video platform

A bipartisan effort to ban the social media platform TikTok kicked off Tuesday in Washington, D.C. A small coalition of three lawmakers — one senator and two representatives, two Republicans and one Democrat — submitted companion bills that would ban the popular video app.

The nine-page bill mentions TikTok by name. Within 30 days of passage, the president would be directed to ban the app, along with any others headquartered in certain “countries of concern.” That list includes China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.

It’s unlikely either bill will pass during the current term of Congress. But in the new year, Republicans will control the U.S. House. It’s the House bill that has bipartisan support, with Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, as co-sponsors. Gallagher has referred to TikTok as digital fentanyl.

Marco Rubio, R-Florida is the only sponsor of the Senate bill. Democrats will control the Senate in the new year. Any successful effort to ban TikTok would have to be bipartisan.

The bill to ban TikTok has yet to earn co-sponsors from Michigan. But congressional records show that Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Township, co-sponsored a bill to in April 2021 to ban TikTok on government devices.

The next month, in May 2021, McClain introduced a bill that would also dismantle TikTok in the United States: The Anti-CCP Espionage via Social Media Act of 2021.

Within 90 days of passage, the bill would require TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, “to divest itself of (1) any assets or property used to enable or support ByteDance’s operation of the TikTok application in the United States, and (2) any data obtained or derived from TikTok application or application users in the United States.”

“TikTok poses a major threat to the United States and our national security due to its ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” McClain said when she introduced the bill. Her office added that McClain “introduced this bill as part of the Republican Study Committee’s initiative to counter Communist China.”

The bill never got a vote.

In July 2021, Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, introduced a bill that would authorize sanctions against TikTok’s owners. While the latest bill says the president “shall” shut down TikTok in America, Bergman’s bill only says the president “may” take action.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.