Biden Issues First Veto on ESG and Woke Capitalism

On Monday, Joe Biden vetoed legislation overturning a labor department rule Republicans have called ‘woke capitalism.’ According to Biden’s video release, Congress’s legislation would jeopardize Americans’ retirement savings. Biden said they failed to consider investments that would be impacted by climate and impacted by overpaying executives. Because of this, he decided to veto it.

Republicans have criticized “ESG” investing, which stands for “environmental, social, and governance,” for prioritizing liberal political causes like climate change and fossil fuel divestment over retirement account returns.

Biden’s first veto supported Wall Street’s wokeness over workers. Kevin McCarthy, the House speaker, said this tells you exactly where Biden’s priorities lie. It’s clear now that Biden wants Wall Street to take advantage of your retirement savings to fund his far-left political agenda, despite a bipartisan vote to block it.

The right’s “war on wokeness” has affected schools, companies, and government, and they’re willing to challenge corporate America, a Republican ally.

After working with Democratic majorities for two years, Biden’s veto shows his more confrontational relationship with Republicans in Congress. The White House is preparing for more significant battles over government spending and the debt limit in the coming months. Meanwhile, House Republicans are advancing legislation to use against Democrats in next year’s election.

The White House claimed that the legislation would have prohibited pension fund managers from considering “risk factors Maga House Republicans don’t like” like the climate crisis when investing.

Biden tweeted that plan managers should be able to protect your savings—” whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not,” in reference to the far-right Georgia congresswoman who opposes progressive ideas.

House Republicans passed the bill after taking control this year. Senators Manchin of West Virginia and Tester of Montana voted with Republicans earlier this month to send the measure to Biden. Tester is seeking re-election in Trump-won states.

Manchin said that it was “absolutely infuriating” that Biden had put his administration’s progressive agenda before the well-being of Americans. Machin represents a state that produces coal and says the rule threatened America’s economic security as high inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine upend energy markets.

The veto returns the bill to Congress. House Republicans have scheduled a vote on Thursday to override the veto, but it would require two-thirds of each chamber, which seems unlikely.

Biden’s veto allows retirement fund managers to consider ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) factors when investing. The rule lifted Trump-era restrictions on retirement fund managers’ consideration of such factors.

Proponents of ESG argue that assessing a company’s working conditions, pending lawsuits, and environmental records can reveal more stable and profitable savings opportunities. Conservatives have targeted the popular investment strategy; several Republican-led state legislatures have passed or are proposing legislation to limit or ban their state from considering social or environmental impacts when investing.

In his formal statement to Congress, Biden said the rule would allow retirement plan fiduciaries to make informed investment decisions by taking into account all relevant factors. According to Biden, Republicans disregarded free market principles and jeopardized the life savings of working families and retirees by denying these considerations.

Biden signed a Republican-led resolution overruling the District of Columbia’s criminal code overhaul on Monday after his initial veto.

The president’s support for the measure angered many Democrats, who expected him to veto it to respect the federal district’s right to self-governance. The move highlights the pressure Biden and his party are under from Republicans who have sought to make rising violent crime rates a political liability.

Biden also signed a bill requiring the administration to declassify intelligence on the coronavirus pandemic’s origins, which Congress passed unanimously. Republicans have held a series of hearings on the controversial origins of COVID-19 since taking over the House this year.

The Department of Energy and FBI recently stated that the virus was leaked from a Chinese laboratory but did not provide evidence.

Biden said he shared Congress’s goal of tracing the virus that has killed over 1 million Americans. “We need to understand Covid-19’s origins to help prevent future pandemics,” he said.