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Gallagher Krishnamoorthi

House leaders expect a big TikTok vote today

The House will vote today on a bill that could ban one of the world’s most popular social media apps from the United States.

It’s been less than a week since H.R. 7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, was introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the chair and ranking member of the China select committee.

Remember: This bill needs to pass with a two-thirds House majority under the fast-track suspension of the rules procedure that the GOP leadership is planning to use. Lawmakers in both parties said that would happen.

The bipartisan legislation — the product of months of secret negotiations — would require Beijing-based ByteDance to divest itself of control of TikTok or be banned from U.S. app stores and hosting services. Both House GOP and Democratic leaders back the legislation, and President Joe Biden has said he’ll sign it if this bill comes to his desk.

There was a single classified briefing by officials from the FBI, Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the threat faced by Americans who use TikTok before last Thursday’s markup in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That vote was 50-0.

There was another classified briefing for all House members on Tuesday. Today there will be a floor vote on the bill, just over a week from start to finish.

Even opposition from former President Donald Trump to a TikTok ban has barely dented the House blitz. GOP leaders now say that Trump “has backed away” from his initial statements.

“It’s looking strong,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, of the outlook for the bill. “He’s stepping back,” CMR added on Trump.

We’ll say this — almost no legislation moves through the House this quickly. It’s extraordinarily unusual, especially for a bill that could both directly impact millions of Americans while also spilling over into U.S.-China relations.

U.S. officials assert the Chinese government can access internal TikTok data on users, including Americans. ByteDance insists that can’t happen. There are more than 170 million TikTok users in this country, including huge numbers of younger Americans. What to do about the app has been a problem for years.

There’s some House opposition to the legislation. A number of progressives and conservatives have come out as no.

“This legislation is an infringement of our constitutional right to freedom of speech that also places a nearly impossible condition for the app to be sold within six months or less — it’s unrealistic,” freshman Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) said in a statement.

There were also some senior members in both parties still undecided late Tuesday night. They don’t like that the bill singles out TikTok and ByteDance, despite their concerns about the app. And they worry about the politics too. Banning an app that roughly one-third of young Americans use doesn’t strike them as very wise politically.

“This is a free vote in some ways,” one Democratic aide said. “Once it gets to 290 [the two-thirds threshold], people can vote however they want.”

The big issue inside the Capitol is going to be what happens to the bill in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’ll consult with his members about the legislation. Senate Minority Whip John Thune indicated he thought the bill was directionally right. But we’re sensing skepticism among some senators — in both parties — that could lead to the bill’s slow demise.

Here’s Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas):

— John Bresnahan Jake Sherman and Andrew Desiderio

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.