On May 23, Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a Republican, launched a legislative proposal intended to prevent the U.S. government from incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria into federal retirement funds.
New bill seeks to bar the TSP
The proposed bill seeks specifically to bar the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a federal retirement scheme, from introducing retirement plans based on ESG factors.
ESG is a broad financial strategy where businesses and investors commit to utilizing their resources and influence to realize progressive policy goals.
BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street among biggest advocates
These include efforts to decrease fossil fuel usage, curtail gun rights, and other contentious progressive stances. Its major advocates are among the world’s richest firms, including BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street.
The proposed legislation has gained the support of 17 co-sponsors, with Representative Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Troy Nehls of Texas, Byron Donalds of Florida, Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Bob Good of Virginia, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, among others, endorsing the bill.
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ESG poses ‘a dangerous threat to the free flow of capital’
Representative Roy expressed concern about the increasing embrace of ESG strategies, asserting that it runs counter to the principles of a free market and potentially pose risks for the American public.
“Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing poses a dangerous threat to the free flow of capital,” Roy stated, voicing concerns about the implications of this trend for domestic energy supply, shareholder activism, and the promotion of progressive racial and gender ideologies.
Roy highlighted that the TSP started offering federal workers access to around 5,000 mutual funds, some of which operate on ESG criteria, in the previous year.
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Roy calls the ESG movement an ‘investing scheme’
Roy argued that allowing TSP to continue offering ESG investment could inadvertently reinforce the ESG movement, which he criticized as an “investing scheme” employed by progressive corporations to placate the political Left.
The TSP presently manages an estimated $817 billion in assets. Given that the “vast majority of TSP contributions stem from withholdings from federal or servicemember paychecks and their respective agency matches,” according to Roy, TSP appears to be facilitating the use of billions in taxpayer dollars for ESG investments.
Roy’s bill aims to curb this practice by limiting the criteria that TSP can utilize for investment.
It seeks to prevent investment based on environmental criteria like emissions, climate change issues, pollution, or a company’s involvement in fossil fuel production, as well as social criteria such as a company’s production of firearms or the racial, sexual, or gender composition of its executive board.
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Bill seeks to limit investment based on political beliefs
Moreover, the legislation aims to limit investment based on a company’s political beliefs or donations. It prohibits investments with “more rigorous corporate governance standards” than those required by “applicable State and Federal Law.”
The proposed legislation would force the TSP to retroactively divest funds in violation of these provisions and makes provision for civil suits to be initiated against the TSP for breaching these rules.
This proposal echoes a similar but more extensive one approved by the Republican House earlier in the year, which sought to enforce anti-ESG rules for private investing.
However, President Joe Biden vetoed the earlier bill, marking the first veto of his presidency. The earlier bill aimed to overturn a Department of Labor rule allowing investment firms to consider ESG criteria in their investments.
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