President Joe Biden signed the first veto of his presidency, blocking a bipartisan bill that would have prohibited pension fund managers from considering environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues when investing.
“President Biden’s first veto is against a bipartisan bill that protects retirement savings from political interference,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a statement.
“It is clear that President Biden wants Wall Street to use your hard-earned money not to grow your savings, but to fund a far-left political agenda. That will hurt seniors and workers, especially after President Biden’s reckless spending caused record inflation and rapid interest rate hikes,” he added.
The legislation passed the Senate 50-46, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) joining Republicans.
Manchin criticized Biden’s decision to veto the bill, accusing his administration of prioritizing a “radical policy agenda.”
“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,” he said.
Republicans have referred to ESG investing as “woke investing” or “woke capitalism.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced an 18-state coalition to “push back against President Biden’s environmental, social, corporate governance agenda that is destabilizing the American economy and global financial system.”
“We as freedom-loving states can work together and leverage our state pension funds to force change in how major asset managers invest the money of hardworking Americans, ensuring corporations are focused on maximizing shareholder value, rather than the proliferation of woke ideology,” a joint statement from the 18 states said.
According to Investopedia, ESG factors include supporting LGBTQ+ rights, embracing “diversity” among board members, and establishing policies to combat climate change.
Biden described his reasoning for vetoing the bill by referencing “MAGA House Republicans,” specifically Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who supported the bill.
I just vetoed my first bill.
This bill would risk your retirement savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House Republicans don't like.
Your plan manager should be able to protect your hard-earned savings — whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not. pic.twitter.com/PxuoJBdEee
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 20, 2023
The White House previously said Biden would veto the legislation if it passed in Congress.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the anti-ESG bill, saying it would “jeopardize the retirement and life savings for police officers, firefighters, teachers, and tens of millions [of] retirees all across the country.”
Pierre noted Biden would veto the legislation, saying that he is “focused” on protecting the life-savings of workers in the U.S.
Biden’s first veto came 789 days after he took office, five days longer than former President Donald Trump and nearly 500 days longer than former President Barrack Obama.