House Republicans break from Trump on TikTok

Here’s a rarity for House Republicans — they just bucked Donald Trump.

Weeks after walking away from a bipartisan border deal at the former president’s behest, House Republican leaders on Wednesday rammed through a bill that could eventually ban TikTok over Trump’s objections.

Republicans who rejected Trump’s warnings on Wednesday included some of his staunchest supporters. Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) were among the 197 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill — which easily cleared the two-thirds vote threshold it needed to pass the lower chamber.

So, too, did Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who was on Fox News minutes before the vote waffling over whether to support it. And he wasn’t the only Republican openly disregarding Trump’s guidance.

“I always like to know what President Trump was thinking,” said Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.). “But I definitely believe this is a good bill.”

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Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said the former president’s opposition was “not at all” a factor in his decision to support the bill.

“He’s getting bad advice from somebody. I don’t know why,” Crenshaw told POLITICO. “It’s okay, we don’t have to agree on everything.”

Such defiance probably won’t last. Unlike on the border negotiations, Trump, now the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, didn’t push lawmakers hard on TikTok — limiting his protestations to a Truth Social post and an appearance on CNBC.

But in this one instance, at least, Republicans shrugged him off. “Republicans wisely looked at the threat from our largest geopolitical foe as much greater than pushback from Donald Trump,” Republican consultant Alice Stewart said.

Trump had warned Republicans against approving the bill that would force Beijing-based ByteDance to divest TikTok within six months or face a ban on the app in the U.S. While Trump believes TikTok is a national security threat, he also said barring it would empower Facebook, which he considers “an enemy of the people.”

The stance marked a reversal for Trump, who had issued an executive order when he was president attempting to ban TikTok. And it came as the prominent Club for Growth and a former senior Trump senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, were on Capitol Hill advocating for the app.

But unlike with the border bill — which Trump actively pushed Republicans to walk away from to deny rival President Joe Biden an election-year win — the former president did not directly pressure lawmakers to vote against the TikTok legislation, a person close to Trump and granted anonymity to speak freely said. Trump’s campaign declined comment.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson, who derailed the border deal amid pressure from Trump, hailed the resoundingly bipartisan vote in favor of the TikTok bill as demonstrating “Congress’ opposition to Communist China’s attempts to spy on and manipulate Americans, and signals our resolve to deter our enemies.”

Given Trump’s decision not to mount a pressure campaign, the vote was more likely a one-off rejection of the former president’s positions than a sign of growing GOP willingness to defy him.


power to help shape votes

Trump still has “a lot of power to help shape votes on key pieces of legislation,” Stewart said. “Members of Congress, especially in the House where they’re all up for reelection, [know] it’s better to fall in line behind Donald Trump than face the consequences of standing up to him.”

Indeed, some of Trump’s allies in the House did just that on Wednesday. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and recent Trump endorsee Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) were among the 15 Republicans who joined with some House progressives in voting against the bill.

“I voted no against the bill because I think that it opens up many possibilities. There could be unintended consequences — or maybe some intended consequences,” Greene said. “if we care about protecting people’s data, then we should protect Americans’ data universally from every company that is using their data or selling their data.”

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Biden, despite recently joining TikTok for his reelection campaign, has said he would sign it if it reaches his desk.

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