House Foreign Affairs Committee to vote on bill with the potential to ban TikTok

The H.R. 1153 bill would revise Berman amendment rules that previously protected TikTok from a U.S. ban back in 2020.

Jakub Porzycki, Getty Images

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to look over legislation on Tuesday that features a bill with the potential to give President Joe Biden the ability to ban TikTok in the US. More specifically, a panel will vote on a number of bills pertaining to China this Tuesday, which includes one that’d revise prior protections keeping creative content like TikTok safe from U.S. sanctions.

As reported by outlets like CNBC, the bill dubbed H.R. 1153 is expected to pass the committee, and is also expected to pass in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Especially given the fact it’s being spearheaded by the committee’s newly seated Republican chairman, Texas Rep. Mike McCaul. However, its fate in the Democratic majority Senate is a bit less certain.

Should it pass in the House and Senate, H.R. 1153 could open the doors to revisions of Berman amendment rules that were first enacted at the end of the Cold War. The goal of the Berman amendments at the time was to protect “informational materials” such as books and magazines from sanctions-related import and export bans.

TikTok app download on a mobile phone with a hand holding the phone and selecting a button to open the app
© Brent Lewin, Bloomberg

The amendments were later expanded to include a broader range definition of informational materials including digital content like TikTok. In terms of how effective these amendments have been, they were successfully cited by TikTok back in 2020 when the Trump administration attempted to ban the app.

“Currently the courts have questioned the administration’s authority to sanction TikTok. My bill empowers the administration to ban TikTok or any software applications that threaten U.S. national security,” said McCaul in a statement cited by CNBC.

While the bill seemingly focuses on matters of U.S. national security, there are those that point to it as a form of potential censorship. On this, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter told CNBC that, “It would be unfortunate if the House Foreign Affairs Committee were to censor millions of Americans.”

For more on H.R. 1153 and how its revision of Berman amendment rules could put TikTok in the crosshairs of a potential ban in the U.S. be sure to read through some of our previous coverage including the Trump administration’s removal of apps like TikTok and WeChat from app stores, and FCC commissioner Brendan Carr urging the U.S. government to ban TikTok.

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola