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McConnell says TikTok bill deserves 'urgent attention' amid China security threat concerns

PoliticsMcConnell says TikTok bill deserves 'urgent attention' amid China security threat concerns

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted the need for the Senate to take action on TikTok in a floor speech on Monday, emphasizing to his colleagues that “America’s greatest strategic rival is threatening our security right here on U.S. soil in tens of millions of American homes.”

“This is a matter that deserves Congress’ urgent attention,” he said. “And I’ll support commonsense, bipartisan steps to take one of Beijing’s favorite tools of coercion and espionage off the table.”

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Republican Sen. McConnell on Capitol Hill

McConnell sounded the alarm over TikTok in his floor speech on Monday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite/File)

McConnell’s remarks on the popular social media app, which is under scrutiny due to its ownership by Chinese company Bytedance, came after legislation to force the sale of the company to a non-Chinese entity passed the House with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority last month.

Only one member abstained when the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, introduced in the House by Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., passed, 352-65

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TikTok app logo is seen

TikTok is a popular social media app. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File)

When the bill arrived in the Senate, it was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for a markup rather than expedited for passage as some had hoped. The process and timeline the bill now faces are unclear, as committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has expressed the intention to hold public hearings on the issue. 

McConnell joins a number of other senators calling for urgent action on the bill, including Senate Intel committee Chair Mark Warner, D-Va.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping sitting at a session.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is shown here. Due to China’s laws, businesses in the country must divulge private information. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images/File)

However, with Schumer’s decision not to immediately take the bill to the floor for a vote, and Cantwell’s plan for hearings, it appears unlikely that their desired quick action will take place. 

The Senate minority leader also addressed an argument made by several of his Republican colleagues regarding the TikTok bill, slamming the suggestion that it violates the First Amendment.

“This isn’t a debate about restricting speech,” McConnell said.

Maria Cantwell and Chuck Schumer

The Senate did not expedite the House-passed bill. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are shown here. (Getty Images/File)

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“The question we’ll face is about conduct, not content,” he said. 

And according to McConnell, “Requiring the divestment of Beijing-influenced entities from TikTok would land squarely within established constitutional precedent.”


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