Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Pence worries TikTok bill could get lost in ‘fog of presidential politics,’ urges Senate vote

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Former Vice President Mike Pence is concerned that a bipartisan effort to force popular social media app TikTok to cut ties with China will fall victim to presidential politics ahead of the November election, which promises to be fiercely competitive. 

“I am concerned that this vitally important national security measure could be caught up in the delays in the United States Senate and ultimately be lost in the fog of presidential politics,” he told Fox News Digital in an interview, referencing the upcoming November election that is expected to be a rematch between former President Trump and President Biden.

Pence’s organization, Advancing American Freedom, is spearheading a campaign to push a bill through Congress and to Biden’s desk that would require TikTok to either divest from Chinese-owned company Bytedance or see itself banned in the U.S. His effort includes a multimillion-dollar ad buy in Washington, D.C., and several states aimed at pressuring Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other key senators to get the legislation to the finish line. 

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Pence has sounded the alarm over TikTok’s national security threat. (Getty Images)

The $2 million ad started running in the nation’s capital on Sunday, and Pence previewed to Fox News Digital that it would also run at a later date “in a number of states around the country,” including Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 

“We’ll be not only calling on people to call Schumer, but also to call the relevant Democrat senators in those states to urge them also to step forward in support of forcing the sale of TikTok and bringing this matter to the floor to a vote and to final passage,” he said. 

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According to the former vice president and former 2024 presidential candidate, TikTok “represents a profound compromise of the privacy of millions of Americans and creates an opportunity for the Chinese Communist Party to collect data on tens of millions of Americans that could be exploited in the future.” 

Maria Cantwell and Chuck Schumer

Schumer did not seek to expedite the House-passed TikTok bill, instead sending it Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Commerce Committee chairwoman. (Getty Images)

Pence noted that it is “perhaps even more perilous” that TikTok has been able to establish an “unprecedented, propaganda platform for an adversarial nation in the United States.”

Part of Pence’s worry about swift action on the bill is born out of his own experience in Congress. “My concern, having spent 12 years in the House of Representatives, is that not a whole lot gets done after Memorial Day during a presidential election year.”

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But he explained that TikTok’s data collection and connection to China present too urgent a threat to put off. 

The bill, introduced by House China Select Committee Chair Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and ranking member Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., passed the lower chamber with a bipartisan vote of 352-65

Mike Gallagher

Gallagher is the author of the bill. (Kent Nishimura for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Once it reached the Senate, it was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, rather than being expedited for floor consideration as some had hoped.  

Pence said he discussed the bill and its path in the Senate with Gallagher, who he said had detailed Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell’s, D-Wash., staff being both open and constructive, despite potential concerns emerging about her control over the bill’s fate. Pence claimed Gallagher told him Cantwell’s team was “engaging in a constructive way.” 

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Several reports from Politico revealed last month that multiple of Cantwell’s former staffers are now lobbying on behalf of TikTok, prompting questions regarding the senator’s role in overseeing the bill’s trajectory. 

former Vice President Mike Pence

Pence is focused on pressuring the Senate to address the TikTok bill. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

TikTok did not provide comment to Fox News Digital. 

There is no clear timeline for the legislation in the Senate, and many senators have warned that bills often take longer in the body than in the House. However, some have disputed this, including Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., noting its quick passage in the House and national security implications. “I wouldn’t accept the premise that there’s a default to a long process,” he recently told Fox News Digital. 

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., previously pointed the finger at outside lobbying efforts for the bill’s stall in the Senate. He claimed the bill being moved to committee was a bid to “kill it.” 

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“Just put a sign right there on the door that says ‘Property of Big Tech,’” he suggested at the time. 

Cantwell has signaled her intent to hold public hearings on the proposed bill, in addition to a markup. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, ranking member of the Commerce Committee, telegraphed approval of the possibility as a frequent champion of returning to regular order in Congress. 





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