The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Grassley, Ernst likely to support TikTok ‘ban’ bill

After the U.S. House passed the bill, members of Iowa’s federal delegation shared the reasons why they would support it in exclusive interviews with The Daily Iowan.
Emily Nyberg
Photo illustration by Emily Nyberg

WASHINGTON — Iowa Republican U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are likely to vote for the bill that could lead to a nationwide TikTok ban and divestment from the app’s current Chinese-based owner if it comes to a vote in the U.S. Senate. 

The U.S. House voted on March 13 to pass a bill that could end the usage of the social media app TikTok, which is widely popular among people ages 18-24 years old, and has over 170 million American users. The ban would occur if TikTok’s China-based owner, ByteDance, does not sell its shares in the app to an American buyer. 

Learn more here:

Grassley said in an interview with The Daily Iowan Monday that he supports the version of the bill that went through the House, but if it changes while in the Commerce Committee, his vote could change. 

“We just want it to be owned by an American company so it can be used the same way people use it without the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the process,” Grassley said. 

Ernst said in an interview with the DI Wednesday that she supports the bill and is leaning toward voting for it. She said she would thoroughly review it if the Senate was set to vote. She added that she has concerns about ByteDance’s security of Americans’ data. 

“I want to know all the specifics about it, but it does sound like it’s more of a divestment bill, not an outright ban,” Ernst said. “If you have the opportunity to visit with folks that are on the Intel Committee, they will lay it out quite specifically for you that this is a backdoor for the Chinese to gather information.” 

While the bill’s path to the Senate remains unclear, all of Iowa’s U.S. House members voted to pass the bill. 

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, said in an interview with the DI Tuesday that the content on TikTok isn’t the issue — the security of Americans’ data is. Miller-Meeks said the bill was in the works for a little over a year to examine national security implications. 

“ByteDance has 20 percent ownership by the Chinese Communist Party and by law in China, they have to give all information to the Chinese Communist Party, so that in and of itself is an issue,” Miller-Meeks said. 

ByteDance claims to have no connections to the Chinese Communist Party, The Washington Post reported. However, because the company’s is based in China, it legally must establish a Communist Party committee. 

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, said the Chinese Communist Party has weaponized their platform through TikTok.  

“We want people to continue to have access to that platform,” she said in an interview with the DI Tuesday. “I just want to make sure it’s not owned by a Chinese Communist Party company.”

Since the bill passed in the House, public input has been mixed. Some U.S. lawmakers’ offices, including Miller-Meeks, have heard firsthand feedback. 

Miller-Meeks said when the bill was passed in the House, she and other U.S. Representatives’ offices were flooded with calls from young people who use TikTok.

A CNBC All-America Economic Survey found in late March that nearly 50 percent of respondents approve of the TikTok ban. At least 60 percent of Republican respondents said it should be banned. 

“Many people didn’t even know why they were calling, they just said ‘I have to get on my app and I can’t get on my app unless I call you,’” Miller-Meeks said. “They weren’t familiar with what it is that we are trying to do.” 

President Joe Biden also endorsed the legislation in March and said he would sign it into law if it went to his desk. 

Miller-Meeks said a part of the process of getting phone calls is educating individuals on what lawmakers are doing. 

“It’s a very profitable site, and that having another willing buyer who is not an adversary or national security risk to the United States, or to its people or citizens, especially young people.” 

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Sabine Martin
Sabine Martin, Executive Editor
Sabine Martin is the Executive Editor of The Daily Iowan. She is a senior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communications and international studies. Sabine is also earning a minor in French. As a current member PolitiFact Iowa team, Sabine was previously Managing News Editor, News Editor, Summer News Editor, and a News Reporter covering higher education at the DI. Sabine interned for U.S. News and World Report in Washington, D.C. in 2023 as an education reporter and for the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 2022.
Emily Nyberg
Emily Nyberg, Visual Editor
Emily Nyberg is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic arts. Prior to her role as a Visual Editor, Emily was a Photojournalist, and a News Reporter covering higher education.