Congress Ramps Up the Pressure on TikTok

Efforts to force the divestment of TikTok are gaining steam in Congress after a legislative maneuver by Speaker Mike Johnson.Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

The clock ticks for TikTok

The push to either split TikTok from its Chinese owner, ByteDance, or ban it in the U.S. is gaining momentum thanks to a legislative maneuver by the House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The bill’s progress comes as The Times reveals more details about the video platform’s origin story — and the central role played by the Chinese subsidiary of the trading firm of a Republican donor, Jeff Yass.

Johnson has bundled the TikTok bill into a foreign aid package. The speaker said on Wednesday that he would put up for a vote this weekend a spending measure for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan that includes a modified version of the TikTok divestment legislation.

The move may force the Senate’s hand: The House overwhelmingly passed the bill last month, but the Senate hasn’t been in a rush to take it up.

Bundling the TikTok measure with aid to Ukraine could force the upper chamber to act. The move “to package TikTok is definitely unusual, but it could succeed,” Paul Gallant, a policy analyst for the financial services firm TD Cowen, told the Times.

That won’t please ByteDance investors, a group thatincludes major American financial firms including General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital. Another is Susquehanna International Group, the firm founded by Yass that owns a roughly 15 percent stake that is worth billions on paper.

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