House Republicans significantly increased their attacks on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing on Wednesday, introducing four bills to either roll back or block the inclusion of ESG factors in retirement plans.
The Education and the Workforce Committee said the bills “amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to ensure financial institutions are focused on maximizing returns in retirement plans rather than on woke environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors.”
It’s the latest salvo in GOP efforts to derail the sustainable investing strategy, which seeks to incorporate the three areas when evaluating a company’s impact and performance. Recent efforts include lawsuits from red-state attorney generals, among other tactics.
“Pushing back hard against the concept of [ESG] investing in retirement plans continues to be a focal point of congressional Republican policymaking efforts this year,” Andrew Remo, Director of Federal and State Legislative Affairs at the American Retirement Association, said. “This is only the first step in the process for this package of bills, and it is reasonable to expect further action on this issue in the House in the weeks ahead."
Members Rick Allen, R-Ga., Erin Houchin, R-Ind., Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Bob Good, R-Va., and Jim Banks, R-Ind., announced the introduction of four bills respectively:
- H.R. 5339, the Roll Back ESG to Increase Retirement Earnings (RETIRE) Act;
- H.R. 5337, the Retirement Proxy Protection Act;
- H.R. 5338, the No Discrimination in My Benefits Act; and
- H.R. 5340, Providing Complete Information to Retirement Investors Act.
“Americans invest to secure a brighter future for themselves and their families, not to bankroll Democrats’ radical initiatives and pet projects,” the members said in a statement. “The Biden administration’s policies have driven our economy into the ground. ESG investing only makes matters worse by putting the hard-earned savings of millions of Americans in jeopardy. Our bills are focused on rolling back Biden’s destructive ESG rule and protecting the financial future of working Americans, retirees, and their families.”
- Rep. Allen’s Roll Back ESG to Increase Retirement Earnings (RETIRE) Act: Clarifies that financial institutions must base decisions on an investment solely on economic factors.
- Rep. Houchin’s Retirement Proxy Protection Act: States that the decision to exercise a shareholder right is subject to the prudence and loyalty duties under ERISA. It also states that proxies held by ERISA plans must be voted in the economic interest of the plan, not used to advance radical policies.
- Chairman Good’s No Discrimination in My Benefits Act: Declares that race, color, religion, sex, or national origin may not be taken into consideration when selecting a fiduciary, counsel, employee, or service provider of an ERISA plan.
- Rep. Banks’ Providing Complete Information to Retirement Investors Act: Implements a notice requirement on defined contribution plans explaining the difference between choosing from investments selected by ERISA fiduciaries and choosing from investments through a brokerage window.