The House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up a bill Tuesday that would allow President Joe Biden to issue a nation-wide TikTok ban.
The legislation was introduced last week by Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee. The committee will consider the legislation during a meeting Tuesday afternoon, after a morning hearing on threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at which several top Biden administration officials are set to testify.
New: The House Foreign Affairs Cmte will mark up a bill tomorrow that would allow the president to ban TikTok in the United States. Bill is being offered by @RepMcCaul, HFAC chair
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) February 27, 2023
McCaul’s legislation would modify the Berman amendment to the International Emergency Powers Act, which limits the president’s authority to regulate certain informational material with the goal of promoting free exchange of ideas across borders, The Hill reported. The bill removes the exemption from technology involving “sensitive personal data,” which would make TikTok eligible for a ban.
“Currently the courts have questioned the administration’s authority to sanction TikTok. My bill empowers the administration to ban TikTok or any software applications that threaten U.S. national security. And make no mistake – TikTok is a security threat,” McCaul told the Daily Caller. “Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon into your phone.”
A number of states, as well as federal agencies, have moved forward with bans of TikTok on devices used for government business. McCaul’s legislation, if passed, would theoretically make it possible for Biden to ban TikTok from general use entirely. Biden has not explicitly stated whether he plans to do so or not. (RELATED: Washington’s Most Influential Newsletters Take Money From TikTok)
Tackling challenges posed by the CCP has become a bipartisan priority in the new Congress, although Republicans have been more hawkish than Democrats on many China-related issues. Democratic New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, opposes McCaul’s legislation, calling it “hastily introduced.”
In addition to enabling the CCP to collect vast quantities of data on Americans, TikTok has also allegedly been used to interfere in American elections by CCP affiliates. Additionally, some proponents of banning the application raised concerns about the health effects it has on minors.