Biden Issues First Veto, Blocks Anti-ESG Investment Measure

President Joe Biden issued his first veto on Monday after Congress voted to block a Labor Department rule that would allow fund managers of retirement plans to consider the long-term effects of social factors and climate change on investments—a move Republicans call a “woke” policy that will harm retirees’ pocketbooks.

According to a statement sent to the press by the White House, the president could not support Congress’s efforts to block the Department of Labor’s rule.

The president also posted a video to Twitter on the veto, saying that signing it “made sense” because the resolution passed by Congress would “put at risk the retirement savings of individuals across the country.”

In the president’s statement sent to the media, Biden explained the decision: “The Department of Labor’s final rule protects the hard‑earned life savings and pensions of tens of millions of workers and retirees across the country. It allows retirement plan fiduciaries to make fully informed investment decisions by considering all relevant factors that might impact a prospective investment, while ensuring that investment decisions made by retirement plan fiduciaries maximize financial returns for retirees.”

The president added, “There is extensive evidence showing that environmental, social, and governance factors can have a material impact on markets, industries, and businesses.

“But the Republican-led resolution would force retirement managers to ignore these relevant risk factors, disregarding the principles of free markets and jeopardizing the life savings of working families and retirees.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy responded to the news on Twitter.

“In his first veto, Biden just sided with woke Wall Street over workers. Tells you exactly where his priorities lie,” he wrote. “Now—despite a bipartisan vote to block his ESG agenda—it’s clear Biden wants Wall Street to use your retirement savings to fund his far-left political causes.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who led 50 senators from both sides of the aisle in introducing the resolution to nullify the ESG rule early in February, issued a statement following the veto saying, “This Administration continues to prioritize their radical policy agenda over the economic, energy and national security needs of our country, and it is absolutely infuriating.

“West Virginians are under increasing stress as we continue to recover from a once in a generation pandemic, pay the bills amid record inflation, and face the largest land war in Europe since World War II … Despite a clear and bipartisan rejection of the rule from Congress, President Biden is choosing to put his Administration’s progressive agenda above the well-being of the American people.”

The House passed the resolution on Feb. 28 by a vote of 216–204, disapproving of a DOL rule allowing retirement plan managers to take environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into account when making investment decisions.

On March 1, the Senate also moved to block the rule in a vote that fell largely along party lines, with Manchin and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) crossing party lines to vote with Republicans, approving the resolution in a 50–46 vote.

To override Biden’s veto, Congress will now need to pass the bill with a two-thirds supermajority, which is generally considered a difficult hurdle to overcome.

From The Epoch Times

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