Mitch McConnell backs House TikTok bill that could lead to ban

Washington — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday endorsed a bill that could lead to a ban of TikTok in the U.S. after its momentum slowed in the Senate following its whirlwind passage in the House last month. 

“This is the matter that deserves Congress’ urgent attention, and I’ll support common sense bipartisan steps to take one of Beijing’s favorite tools of coercion and espionage off the table,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor, describing the platform as “a tool of surveillance and of propaganda.” 

The legislation seeks to force its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months to maintain access to U.S. web-hosting services and app stores. 

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

Critics of the bill have questioned the bill’s constitutionality given the government’s targeting of a single company and have also said it would violate Americans’ free speech rights by taking away a platform they use for expression. 

The bill’s path in the Senate, which typically moves slower than the lower chamber, is unclear. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has been noncommittal about bringing it up for a vote, though he included TikTok legislation among his top priorities in a letter to Democrats last week. 

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell said Democrats on the panel were meeting Monday night to discuss next steps. After a classified briefing last month from national security officials, Cantwell said she was considering holding a hearing on the matter. She’s also indicated that the House bill could undergo changes or be scrapped. 

“We’ll have a game plan on how to proceed after that,” the Washington Democrat said Monday. 

Cantwell said committee members were also meeting this week with Schumer and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and has backed the House bill. 

Alan He contributed reporting. 

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