US lawmakers have been banned from using China’s TikTok video app on corporate cell phones over espionage concerns.
House Clerk Catherine Szpindor issued the instruction as the 435-member House – now controlled by Republicans – prepares to meet this week.
The app is considered “high risk” and reps and their teams must remove it from all devices they have received through official channels.
“Home staff are NOT allowed to download the TikTok app on any of the House’s mobile devices,” Ms. Szpindor’s memo said, according to NBC news.
The British Parliament shut down its TikTok account earlier this year, but some MPs have called for politicians themselves to be banned from using the app.
Joe Biden has already banned federal employees from using the Chinese app on official phones, as have more than a dozen states.
While Democrats and Republicans largely agree on the threat posed by Chinese technology, bipartisanship will be rare on Capitol Hill in the coming months, and the Republican Party is determined to make Mr. Biden’s life as difficult as possible.
Republicans on the party’s right, like Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, were confident of impeachment proceedings against the president.
Such moves seem unlikely after the predicted “red wave” failed in November’s midterm elections and Republicans have only nine seats in the chamber.
“Given how narrow the Republican majority in the House is, it’s unlikely they’ll do it unless there’s a real scandal,” Christopher Galdieri, a professor of politics at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, told the Telegraph.
“You’ve heard a lot from people on the far right of the party before the election saying they’re going to put Biden, Harris and anyone else they don’t like.
“Now they have members elected in rival districts in New York and California who are focused on 2024 and want to stay in Congress.”
They are unlikely to alienate moderate voters by trying to impeach the president.
Hunter Biden, the president’s son, may be a more viable target given his complicated business dealings and embarrassing content on his laptop.
Republican Representative James Comer, a senior member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, is one of the leaders of the charge.
He said the committee would “take an interest in Hunter Biden.”
He added: “President Biden has promised to have the most transparent administration in history, but the Biden White House is trying every step of the way to obstruct congressional oversight and withhold information from the American people.”
The Democrats’ decision to release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns may spur Republicans to seek wide-ranging investigations into the Bidens’ financial affairs.
For protection, Hunter Biden hired Abbe Lowell, a Washington lawyer who previously represented Jared Kushner.
Republicans have their own problems in Congress, with Kevin McCarthy facing a fight to replace Nancy Pelosi as speaker due to the party’s disappointing midterm performance.
The right is expected to back Steve Scalise, the Republican whip who was shot in the hip during baseball practice in 2017.
Despite Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema switching her allegiance from Democratic to Independent, Mr. Biden retained control of the Senate.
But that could change in 2024 when Republicans are picking up seats. This could put pressure on Supreme Court Justices Elena Kegan, 62, and Sonia Sotomayor, 68, to retire and allow Biden to appoint two Liberal deputies.