EXCLUSIVE: Republican leaders in Congress’ top financial committees are pushing President Biden to force the implementation of a 2020 national security order that would force the sale of all U.S. assets belonging to Chinese TikTok stake holders to a U.S. company.
In a Friday letter exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Tim Scott, and Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services Patrick McHenry warned that if the administration did not take immediate steps to divert these sales, Congress would.
Concern surrounding Chinese surveillance programs and intelligence gathering through the social media platform have grown in recent years, particularly as the app continues to grow in popularity among Americans.
A 2020 national security finding by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) found that TikTok poses a direct national security risk after it was revealed that data collected on Americans such as email addresses, phone numbers and personal contact information was being shared with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Trump administration took steps to try and outright block the social media site from being accessible in the U.S., though its efforts were struck down by the courts.
The Biden administration in March also looked to tackle potential security threats posed by the CCP by demanding that TikTok owners divert their stakes – a move that Republicans are currently calling for.
However, GOP leaders in the House and Senate do not believe the Biden administration has done enough in the way of forcing real action on these efforts and are now calling on the president to work directly with CFIUS to take concrete action.
"As public servants, we bear a profound responsibility to protect the well-being of future generations by mitigating potential hazards," the letter stated. "TikTok must not be used as a tool of foreign surveillance and indoctrination on our country’s pride and joy—our children."
Concerns surrounding national security and TikTok were renewed in March after TikTok’s Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testified in front of congress, informing them that the platform has only grown in popularity with some 150 million regular American users.
The TikTok CEO faced hours of intense questioning and rebuke from both Republicans and Democrats, who did not appear assured by his insistence that the app does not pose a risk to American users.
Parent company of the video app, ByteDance, has claimed that it does not share information with the CCP, but lawmakers countered these claims and pointed to a Chinese law that requires companies to share data with the government.
Chew also admitted that TikTok has collected data on U.S. users that is still stored in servers in Virginia and Singapore and is accessible to ByteDance – which is being investigated by the U.S. justice department for allegedly spying on U.S. citizens.
In addition to concerns related to spying, lawmakers are increasing anxious over how China can use the app to influence American users.
"In China, TikTok is an educational tool, but here in America, it seems to be more of an indoctrination and surveillance tool," Scott told Fox News Digital. Adding that calls to limit CCP interaction with U.S. users "is an important first step to ensuring that parents have all the information about the challenges with this app and where their child’s data is going."
Scott and McHenry pointed out that support to ban TikTok has increased since Chew’s March testimony and that legislation is in the works to enable the government to take such a step.
"However, the U.S. government already possesses the existing authorities necessary to address the national security issues stemming from TikTok," the duo argued in the letter. "The CCP’s ‘national security laws’ create the potential for American TikTok users to be targeted by disinformation campaigns initiated by the Chinese state, a fact that Mr. Chew did not dispute during the hearing.
"It is imperative that we prevent the CCP from preying on our children and youth," they added.
Fox News Digital could not immediately reach TikTok for comment.