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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Biden Enacts Ukraine Assistance and TikTok Prohibition Laws Following GOP Conflict

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WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, President Joe Biden enacted a fiercely contested ​bill that ⁣allocates billions in new U.S. aid to Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia. This ⁤marks a rare bipartisan triumph ​for the president⁢ in his reelection ​campaign, bringing an end to⁣ months of ‍disputes with Congressional Republicans.

“This legislation provides crucial support to ⁤our allies, enabling them to defend their sovereignty against threats,” Biden stated, noting that the delivery of weapons to Ukraine would commence within the next few hours.

The bill earmarks $61 billion for Ukraine and $26 billion for Israel, along with⁣ $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza and $8 billion to counteract ‍China’s⁢ military power.

As a Democrat expected to run against former Republican President Donald Trump in the upcoming November election, Biden has been urging lawmakers for half a year to approve additional funding for Ukraine. The country has been grappling with a full-scale Russian invasion for over two years. Trump​ opposed the aid for Ukraine, and⁢ some Congressional ⁤Republicans declined to support​ it, expressing doubts about Ukraine’s chances of‌ success.

“Ukraine’s military is a formidable force with the‍ determination and expertise to triumph,” Biden said, attributing the obstruction of ⁢aid to “MAGA Republicans” loyal to Trump, in reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan.

TikTok Legislation

In addition to the aid bill, Biden signed a separate piece of legislation that threatens to ban TikTok in⁤ the United States if its parent company, Chinese tech giant ByteDance, fails to divest the popular short video app within ​the ⁤next nine to​ twelve months.

The social media platform is particularly favored ⁤by young Americans ⁢with liberal leanings, ⁤a demographic that played a key role in Biden’s November victory.

Driven⁢ by widespread concerns ​among U.S. lawmakers that China could access Americans’ data or surveil them through the app, the bill ‌was approved by the House ‌of⁤ Representatives last Saturday.

“For years we’ve allowed the Chinese Communist ‌party to control one of ‍the most popular ⁣apps ‌in America. That was ⁣dangerously shortsighted,” stated Sen. Marco Rubio,‍ the leading Republican on ‍the Intelligence Committee. “A new law will require its Chinese owner to sell the app. This is ⁤a positive step for America.”


For years we’ve allowed the Chinese Communist party to control one of the most popular apps ⁤in​ America. That was dangerously shortsighted.

–Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla


When asked about ​the Senate’s vote, the Chinese foreign ministry referred to comments made in March when the House of Representatives passed a similar bill. At that​ time, the ministry criticized the⁤ legislation,⁣ arguing that despite the U.S. never finding any ⁢evidence of TikTok posing a threat to national security, it ⁤has continually ‌targeted TikTok.

TikTok plans to challenge the bill on First Amendment grounds, and ‍TikTok users are also expected to take legal action. A judge in Montana blocked‌ a state ban on TikTok in November, citing free‌ speech grounds.


Censorship is not who we are as a people. We should not downplay ⁣or deny this⁢ trade-off.

–Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass


The American Civil Liberties Union ⁢warned ⁤that banning‍ or requiring divestiture of TikTok would “set a worrying global precedent for excessive government control over social media platforms… If‍ the United States now bans ​a foreign-owned platform, that ⁢will invite copycat measures‌ by other countries.”

TikTok, which asserts‌ it has⁤ not shared and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, did not immediately comment but has informed employees it would swiftly go to court to try to block ‌the legislation.

“This is the beginning, ⁢not the end of this lengthy process,” TikTok ‍informed staff on​ Saturday in an ‍email seen by Reuters.

Once the bill‌ becomes law, ByteDance will have 270 days to divest TikTok’s U.S. operations, with a potential three-month extension if there are signs⁣ a deal is progressing.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey stated it ⁢would be difficult, if not impossible, for ByteDance to divest‍ by early 2025, adding that a sale ⁢would be one‌ of the most complex and costly transactions‌ in history, requiring months if not years of due diligence.

“We should be very clear about the‌ likely outcome of this law. It’s‌ essentially a TikTok ban,”⁢ he said. “Censorship is ⁤not who⁣ we are as a people. We should not downplay or deny⁤ this trade-off.”

Aid Legislation

The‍ deadlock in Congress ⁤over the Ukraine aid bill was broken when the‍ Republican-controlled House unexpectedly ⁢changed direction and approved four bills that included funding for Ukraine,‍ Israel, Taiwan, and other U.S. partners ⁤in the Indo-Pacific last Saturday.

Biden and‌ House‍ Speaker Mike Johnson held intense discussions about Ukraine in February, and ⁣the president has both implored Republicans to support the package ​and chastised ⁤them for not doing so. Johnson, who faces calls from some right-leaning Republicans to remove him for his reversal on aid, met with ⁤Trump in Florida earlier this month; the former president praised Johnson for “doing a really good job.”

The Senate followed the House on Tuesday evening, passing ‍a comprehensive bill that provides $61 billion⁣ in aid to the country, which has ⁤suffered setbacks in‌ the war that​ supporters attribute to the delay in receiving ⁢the additional U.S. funding.

“Congress has passed my ‌legislation to bolster our national security and send a ⁢message to the world‌ about ⁣the power of American leadership: We stand resolutely for democracy and freedom, and against tyranny and​ oppression,” Biden said in a statement after the Senate vote on Tuesday.

Heather ⁣Conley, an expert on European affairs, said the victory for U.S. allies ‍and for Biden was⁢ tempered‍ by the effects that the delay has had for Kiev on the battlefield.

“This is⁤ a⁢ strong message of American leadership at a time⁢ of enormous⁣ instability, but the delay created cracks in that credibility,” said Conley, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “As we start rolling into the⁢ election, that credibility will continue to be under close scrutiny.”

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