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Cantwell pans House-passed TikTok bill

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) gave her most detailed criticisms to date of the House’s bill forcing TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company.

Speaking with reporters Monday night, Cantwell said the House measure, which got 352 votes, “could be better.”

In particular, Cantwell said she doesn’t think the House bill could stand up to legal scrutiny. And Cantwell raised concerns about the notion of having Congress, rather than the executive branch, determining what constitutes a threat that should be acted upon.

Cantwell has her own TikTok proposal, the GUARD Act, that would set up a process allowing the administration to make those decisions. She likened it to export controls, which are decided by the Commerce Department. Cantwell never got a Republican co-sponsor on her TikTok plan, however.

“If you’re doing something deleterious to U.S. citizens or the military, that was like a big bright line to put into statute. And guess what? Legal people think you can really uphold that in court,” Cantwell said of her approach.

Here’s more from Cantwell, outlining specifically what she thinks is wrong with the House’s bill:

Cantwell’s comments come as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is publicly noncommittal about the path forward. Cantwell’s remarks could also serve to dampen the prospects that the House-passed TikTok bill will make it to President Joe Biden’s desk. The legislation falls within the Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction.

On the opposite side is Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.), who supports the House proposal and has spoken often about the national security threats stemming from the app. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also backed the House TikTok bill Monday.

Cantwell said she’s scheduled to meet with both Schumer and Warner later this week.

— Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan

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