Forced TikTok sale could ‘absolutely’ happen before November election, House China committee

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A forced sale of TikTok, the social media app that U.S. intelligence officials have labeled a national security risk, could happen before the 2024 presidential election in November, the House China committee leaders said Sunday.

House China Select Committee Chair Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and ranking member Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., appeared together on CBS’ “Face the Nation” after the House passed a bill last week that would block TikTok from U.S. app stores if parent company Bytedance, which is linked to the Chinese government, does not divest from it within 165 days.

When asked if a forced sale could happen before the elections in November, Gallagher responded that it “absolutely could” happen.

“And I think all the more reason why we have to tackle this now, the closer we get to an election, the risk just gets greater and greater,” Gallagher said. 

HOUSE PASSES BILL THAT COULD SEE TIKTOK BANNED IN US

TikTok logo

TikTok could be banned from U.S. app stores should lawmakers pass a bill that would require parent company Bytedance, which is linked to the Chinese government, to divest from the app within 165 days. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File / AP Newsroom)

TikTok’s critics have long called it a national security threat. They have cited concerns about the Chinese government’s ability to leverage its power over Bytedance to access sensitive user data, even in the U.S., something the company has denied. 

“Every single intelligence community official that testified before the Intelligence Committee last week suggested under its current ownership structure, TikTok is a threat to national security, which is why we are trying to force TikTok to separate from ByteDance and, by extension, from the Chinese Communist Party,” Gallagher said.

TIKTOK CEO REFUSES TO ANSWER IF CHINESE GOVERNMENT HAS INFLUENCE OVER PLATFORM AS CONGRESS MULLS BAN

Krishnamoorthi, the committee’s ranking member, said that as the bill now moves to the Senate, he and Gallagher have had “very positive” conversations with Senate members who were “very surprised” by the overwhelming bipartisan support in the House.

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While it’s unclear how fast the Senate will move on this bill, Krishnamoorthi noted that the White House has asked Senate lawmakers “to take up this bill quickly.”

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