US Congress will not take up TikTok legislation this year -senator

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Congress will not take up legislation this year that would give the Biden administration new tools to address foreign-owned apps like TikTok that have raised national security concerns, the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee said on Thursday.

Senator Maria Cantwell told Reuters she is still working on legislation and in talks with federal agencies, noting that the Senate held a secure briefing on concerns last month. “We’re really trying to get people to come up with something that they feel like accomplishes the task,” Cantwell said.

Concerns about Chinese-owned TikTok sparked efforts in Congress to boost powers to address the popular short video sharing app or potentially ban it, but those bills have stalled.

Some analysts think Congress and the White House are unlikely to try to ban Tiktok in 2024, which is an election year, given its popularity with young voters.

TikTok, which has more than 150 million users in the United States, denies it improperly uses U.S. data.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee in March voted along party lines on a bill aimed at Tiktok that Democrats said would require the administration to effectively ban the app and other subsidiaries of ByteDance. But the entire U.S. House has never taken up the bill.

Last week, a U.S. judge blocked Montana’s law to bar the use of TikTok in the state starting Jan. 1.

The U.S. Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in March demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners sell their shares, or face the possibility of the app being banned, Reuters and other outlets reported, but the administration has taken no action.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNBC last month that as there was legal action currently pending in regard to TikTok, further CFIUS actions could not be pursued.

Biden’s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, tried to ban TikTok in 2020 but was blocked by U.S. courts.

The White House backed legislation sponsored by Senator Mark Warner and more than two dozen other senators to give the administration new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats.

But that legislation has never been voted on. Warner told Reuters on Friday that the bill has faced intensive lobbying from TikTok. “There is going to be pushback on both ends of the political spectrum,” Warner said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)