ICYMI—Hagerty Joins Bloomberg Technology to Discuss TikTok Legislation, Appropriations Bills, Census Amendment

March 19, 2024

NEW YORK CITY—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees, today joined Bloomberg Technology live in-studio to discuss the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, as well as the appropriations bills under consideration in Congress this week, and his amendment blocked by Senate Democrats to bar illegal immigrants from being counted towards the allocation of congressional seats and electoral votes.

*Click the photo above or here to watch*

Partial Transcript

Hagerty on his concerns with the CCP owning Americans’ data: “It’s hard to say what’s going to happen in the Senate because [Senator] Chuck Schumer controls the pace of play in the Senate—and it’s got to move through the Commerce Committee—and that gavel’s controlled by [Senator] Maria Cantwell. So, I’m not certain what the pace will be, but I can tell you what the concerns are regarding the bill. I think the bill is trying to address a very real concern that has to do with the national security laws of China, and any company that is Chinese owned is subject to their data being surveilled by the Chinese Communist Party. There are no exceptions to that rule, and that’s data collected, wherever it may be collected, around the world, including in America. The concern that this bill is trying to get at is the concern about the privacy of Americans’ data and a desire not to allow that data to be surveilled by the Chinese Communist Party; that’s a very real concern. There’s also another concern that’s being very clearly articulated as well. The last thing that we want to see happen is more power shift to the hands of companies like Meta that have demonstrated a willingness to censor American voices, particularly conservative American voices. So, I think what we’re talking about here is who owns TikTok at the end of the day and whether a divestiture can be achieved. […] I think that that is exactly what the bill contemplates. We’ll see, again, what the final product looks like as it moves to the Senate, but that’s what I would expect to see.”

Hagerty on Trump’s opposition to the TikTok legislation: “I really doubt it has anything to do with lobbying. I think it probably has a lot more to do with what we saw come out in the X-Files, and the Twitter tapes, and the degree of censorship that’s taking place between the Biden Administration and companies like Meta, and Meta’s willingness to get involved in elections. I think everybody was deeply surprised and shocked with the suppression of the story about Hunter Biden that was suppressed from the New York Post. The degree by which this government, certainly this White House, has been, ‘flagging a post of concern to them,’ and that all feels like censorship to most Americans. I think that’s the point; that’s the concern that President [Donald] Trump is highlighting.”

Hagerty on who should purchase TikTok: “I certainly prefer an American own it, and that’s the needle I think this legislation is trying to thread right now […] It’s going to be a large price tag—I feel pretty certain—so it’s hard to predict and nor do I think legislation should dictate who that buyer might ultimately be. But we’ll see what happens.”

Hagerty on the broken appropriations process created by Chuck Schumer: “The first thing we’ve got to do is actually keep the government open, and we’re right up against a deadline this Friday yet again. It’s legislative malpractice in my mind. We actually finished the appropriation bills back in July of 2023. Yet the process has lingered on—Senator Schumer brings up appointee after appointee—this has been a non-serious approach to something very, very serious. We still don’t have the final text of the very last bill as of this morning as we’re meeting. That may come sometime tonight. It creates massive amounts of frustration in the Senate when we’re given a massive bill—this will probably be over a thousand pages—and just a number of hours, maybe 36 hours, to read it and review it. We should have an open process where a senator is allowed to review it, to amend it, to be on the floor. And this, again, creates a great deal of frustration amongst my colleagues when we’re not allowed to do that.”

Hagerty on the possibility of a government shutdown: “I think what will happen is we’ll either get this set of bills—there’s six appropriation bills that are coming through—we’ll either get this set done, or we’ll see a continuing resolution. I think most Americans are familiar with that term now, but that will, again, kick the can down the road, perhaps denominated in a number of weeks, to get this finally sorted out, navigated, and amended if necessary.”

Hagerty on his amendment barring illegal aliens from being counted in the allocation of congressional seats and electoral votes: “It’s certainly a contentious issue, and in the last series of six bills, I brought forward an amendment that very clearly put the point in front of the Senate. And that was what I would view the motive behind the crime at our southern border. And the motive is this: Democrats want to count illegal migrants in the allocation of congressional seats and electoral votes. I tried to put forward an amendment to the appropriation bills, to the Commerce Department—that’s where the census is taken—to require that the allocation of seats for the Congress and allocation of electoral votes be based on citizens, on people who actually can vote, not based on people who are here. We don’t do this for diplomats that are serving here. We don’t count the people that are here on vacation. Why should we count people that are here illegally? But that’s the way it’s working right now, which gives an advantage to states, frankly, that are losing population. You think about New York state, you think about Illinois, you think about California, that’s where sanctuary cities are located. New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, these act as magnets for people that come into the country illegally. If you think about it, they see a city that says: not only are we not going to enforce the immigration laws, but we’re going to provide housing and benefits and things of that nature. You can see that there would be a disproportionate movement in that direction. If you look at the number of people that have entered our country illegally under President [Joe] Biden’s watch just over three years, the estimates are somewhere between eight and ten million people— that would account for up to 13 congressional districts. That’s a significant amount of power that we’re allocating based on people that are here illegally. I don’t think the average American even understands that this is happening. I think most people are shocked when they find out that we don’t base one person, one vote on the number of citizens that are here, but rather we allow that to be diluted.”

Hagerty on Senate Democrats blocking his census amendment: “We had every single Democrat line up and vote for counting illegal immigrants…We find these sharp divisions, and then when we get to concerns about China and conversations about technology, there is bipartisan interest and a bipartisan desire to do something. Again, I’ll come back to the process though, in the lack of prioritization, I think the American public expects us to do something about that. The cryptocurrency arena is a great example. It’s an area where I want to see the innovation remain here in America with the new ETFs that have been issued. The amount of interest, the amount of Americans that are investing in these ETFs right now has really, I think, heightened the need to do something legislatively, yet we continue to kick the can down the road. I think there’s probably real possibility to do something on stable coins, I hope, in the near future. But instead, politics seems to always rule the day, and we wind up voting on things like nominees and things of that nature that are much less significant to the American public.”

Hagerty on Americans’ concerns with the TikTok legislation: “I think it would be quite significant because of the number of users—I think the count is 170 million users of TikTok—so I think there’s a great interest in what happens here. And again, the Congress is trying to thread the needle on balancing our security concerns and our concerns about data privacy with concerns of free speech […] We’ve received calls on both sides, so it’s hard to say where the American public lies on this. I haven’t seen polling on it, but again, I think the concerns are both very real. Again, the national security concern that our data would be exposed to surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, even weaponization by the Chinese Communist Party, that’s something that Americans clearly don’t want—that’s what I’m hearing—but also a concern that we not put too much power in the hands of those large media companies that have shown their desire and their willingness to censor, particularly conservative voices, here in America. So, threading that needle is where this legislation needs to go.”