On Thursday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee advanced four bills meant to either roll back or block the inclusion of ESG factors in retirement plans.
The full committee markup was part of a nine-bill total that Republicans said would support students, workers, job creators, retirees, and taxpayers.
The four bills are part of a wider GOP effort 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.
“We’re nine months into a Republican majority in Congress,” Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said upon completing the markup. “My priority remains the same: delivering results on behalf of the American people. I believe the committee’s work speaks for itself. We are fulfilling our commitment to America.”
The four bills advanced along party lines with the same number of votes, 23–19. The four bills are:
- H.R. 5339, the Roll Back ESG to Increase Retirement Earnings (RETIRE) Act, which “Clarifies that financial institutions must base decisions on an investment solely on economic factors.”
- H.R. 5337, Retirement Proxy Protection Act, which “States that the decision to exercise a shareholder right is subject to the prudence and loyalty duties under ERISA.”
- H.R. 5338, No Discrimination In My Benefits Act, which “Declares that race, color, religion, sex, or national origin may not be considered when selecting a fiduciary, counsel, employee, or service provider of an ERISA plan.”
- H.R. 5340, Providing Complete Information To Retirement Investors Act, which “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.”
When introduced earlier this month, Republicans said the bills would “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.”
Bill to Block Julie Su as Labor Secretary
The committee also advanced a bill to permanently block Julie Su's nomination as Labor Secretary.
H.R. 4957, Department of Labor Succession Act, would clarify federal law to ensure that the tenure of an Acting Secretary of Labor is subject to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.
Su is currently serving as Acting Secretary of Labor under the Department of Labor’s (DOL) succession statute, which the Biden administration contends allows her to continue serving as Acting Secretary because she was previously confirmed as Deputy Secretary.
The DOL explained in a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that Su is serving as Acting Secretary of Labor, not under the Vacancies Act, but under a DOL-specific succession statute (29 USC Section 552), allowing the Deputy Secretary to perform the duties of the Secretary of Labor.