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US Senate not moving to fast-track House measure for TikTok divestment

U.S. flag and TikTok logo are displayed in this image shot, June 2, 2023

WASHINGTON, March 14 (mod1s) - A handful of U.S. senators want the chamber to take its time in determining whether to approve a House of Representatives measure that would require Chinese-based ByteDance to sell short video service TikTok within six months or risk a ban. 

The House voted 352-65 on Wednesday, barely eight days after the legislation was submitted. There is considerable support in the Senate for taking measures to address national security vulnerabilities from foreign applications like TikTok but no consensus on the best method.

Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell said in an interview with Reuters she needs legislation to address broad concerns about foreign applications that will stand up in court and is not convinced the House version goes far enough. 

"We'll probably have a better idea in a week what we think the options are," Cantwell said. "Of course we want to the strongest possible tool and we want it to be the most robust tool we can get." Cantwell said she had thought about convening hearings.

Senator Ron Wyden, a senior Democrat on digital issues, said he is still analyzing the House measure and has "strong concerns about any program that enables the Chinese government access to Americans' private data. I'll also add this: history shows us that when politicians hurry to regulate on tech and social media, errors are made." 

Senator Ted Cruz, the senior Republican on the Commerce Committee, said Bloomberg News the measure should be available to a "full amendment process," which could considerably delay any action.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated only the Senate would study the proposal -- and set no deadline for action. 

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was on Capitol Hill for a second day of discussions with senators on Thursday. He stated in a video broadcast Wednesday on TikTok that has had more than 25 million views in less than a day that the measure if passed into law "would lead to a ban on TikTok in the United States... and would steal billions of dollars out of the wallets of artists and small businesses. It will put 300,000 American jobs at jeopardy."

This week, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat Dick Durbin raised worries about a TikTok ban. "Cutting out a huge section of young people is hardly the best-known approach for re-election,” Durbin told reporters. 

The House measure has garnered the approval of certain important senators including Senate Intelligence committee head Mark Warner and the senior Republican on the panel Marco Rubio
The duo stated they "look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law" 

The landslide vote implies senators should proceed fast, said House Energy and Commerce Committee head Cathy McMorris Rodgers. 

"The overwhelming vote today is a strong signal to the Senate that they need to act," she added.
Some senators say they reject the House plan including Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee but many others have indicated support for moving soon.


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