TikTok Faces a Senate Showdown

Shou Chew, TikTok’s C.E.O., faces the prospect of the popular video-sharing app heading to a crucial Senate vote.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

A messy state of play for TikTok

A federal bill to force TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell the video app — or have it banned — is moving through Washington with surprising speed, after the House passed it with an overwhelming majority.

Though its fate in the Senate is unclear, anti-China sentiment and pressure on lawmakers from the White House could force the issue. That belies the technical and legal hurdles in selling TikTok, as well as divisions within the U.S. tech community over the proposed legislation.

The bill has scrambled the politics of the Senate. The heads of the chamber’s Intelligence Committee — Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, and Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida — support the bill. So do the sometimes progressive John Fetterman, Democrat of Pennsylvania, and the hawkish Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas.

“China bends American companies to its will all the time. It’s long overdue to push back and this bill does exactly that,” Fetterman posted on social media.

Opponents include Republican libertarians like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah as well as mainstream Democrats like Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

American tech executives appear divided. An adviser to Alex Karp, Palantir’s C.E.O., called for a campaign against House lawmakers who voted no, joining the likes of the libertarian venture capitalist Keith Rabois.

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