A powerful Democratic senator said she wants a vote sooner as opposed to later” on a bipartisan bill that could force a sale or outright ban of TikTok even as some critics express frustration about the timeline.

Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the head of the Senate Commerce Committee, is spearheading the upper chambers internal debate on what to do about the popular China-owned app.

House lawmakers overwhelmingly voted last month to approve a bill that forces TikTok’s Beijing-based parent ByteDance to sell within six months or face a total US ban.

When asked about a potential timing of a vote on the legislation, Cantwell said she supported bringing it to the floor sooner as opposed to later, because I dont think its going to go away.

There are some avenues by which we could get this done in a short period of time, Cantwell added in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Sunday.

A lack of progress on the bill has added more pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to expedite a floor vote.

President Biden has already said he will sign the legislation if it comes to his desk.

Cantwell signaled that she supports legislation requiring ByteDance to divest but wants to explore potential changes to the Houses version, including whether it could withstand inevitable legal challenges by TikTok.

Do we want a tool by which the United States can stop bad actors from broadcasting, if you will, into the United States with nefarious messages? And the answer is yes, we want that tool to exist, Cantwell said. And so now the question is: Is the House tool good enough, or do we need to make some changes to it? 

The Commerce chairs approach has rankled some Senate lawmakers who favor a speedy vote and fear the legislation will join a slew of other tech-related bills that have hit snags.

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Historically, the Commerce Committee is where this stuff goes to die, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told the Journal.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) added that she was frustrated with the committee, in that we dont seem to be getting these huge issues resolved.

TikTok has argued that the House bill is a de facto ban and vowed to fight the legislation in court if it becomes law.

Despite the companys apparent reluctance to sell, some suitors have already emerged.

Sources told The Post that ex-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is looking to partner with an AI firm as part of his blockbuster effort to buy TikTok and rebuild its recommendation algorithm in the US.

Sources also said the House bills tight six-month divestment window is viewed as a major obstacle to Mnuchins plan with 12 to 18 months seen as a more realistic timeframe.

Experts pointed to Oracle, the cloud-computing and enterprise AI giant, as a logical partner on a Mnuchin-led bid. Oracle was part of a group that nearly bought TikTok in 2020, when Mnuchin was serving in former President Donald Trumps Cabinet.

Cantwell has signaled openness to extending the six-month timeline, telling reporters earlier this month that doing so would be a good component to guarantee success.

A longer timeframe would give you the ability to actually do a transaction and maybe have a little bit more, not stability, but find the right divestiture, Cantwell told the Journal. 

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