Investors throughout the U.S. “are being held hostage by those who … don’t want to maximize retirement profits, but rather seek to push a far left social and political agenda,” according to Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.
“Forcing lower returns on Americans who are trying to build a securer financial future is wrong,” Huizenga said on Wednesday at a House Financial Services Committee hearing titled “Protecting Investor Interests: Examining Environmental and Social Policy in Financial Regulation.”
“This approach undermines traditional and, frankly, legal government structures and has turned our financial system into a political battlefield.”
“But I’m here to tell you that Americans are waking up. They are waking up to this administration’s assault on their retirement accounts,” Huizenga, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, said, adding:
In this debate, one thing is clear: companies have a decision to make. Will they stand by quietly and let bureaucrats in Washington drive up costs and regulatory burdens, ultimately harming their very everyday investors? Or will they stand up to the out-of-touch, unrealistic policies being pushed by this administration?
Hearing witnesses included James Copland, senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute; Ted Allen, vice president of policy and advocacy at Society for Corporate Governance; Benjamin Zycher, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Lawrence Cunningham, special counsel at Mayer Brown; and Keith Ellison, Minnesota attorney general.
ESG, which stands for environmental, social, and governance, is a business framework that elevates environmental and social causes over profit and shareholder value creation and has been popularized by some businesses and financial investors.
“We’re here today to ensure U.S. markets remain healthy, vibrant, and the envy of the world,” Rep. Patrick McHenry said in remarks at the start of the hearing. “This year, our committee has found bipartisan agreement on solutions to strengthen our public markets and increase opportunities for all investors.”
“I hope we can continue that constructive work today. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a disturbing trend in the Biden administration’s approach to regulating our capital markets, particularly at the Securities and Exchange Commission,” McHenry, R-N.C., said. “Rather than focusing on sound financial regulation, the SEC has turned its attention towards non-material, environmental, social, and political issues. This misguided approach has led to increased costs and burdens for those participating in U.S. public markets.”
These politically motivated regulations not only discourage private companies from going public, but also hinder the competitiveness of American public companies.
In addition to Wednesday’s hearing, three subcommittees of the House Financial Services Committee are having additional hearings on ESG, including two on Thursday and one on Friday.
Ryan Walker, acting executive director at Heritage Action, the grassroots arm of The Heritage Foundation, weighed in on the four hearings this week and their importance. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
“Earlier this year, conservatives forced Biden to issue the first veto of his presidency, a veto in defense of woke ESG investing,” Walker told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. “With his veto, Biden doubled down on the losing ESG investment strategy—a strategy that funds woke policies in corporate America and weaponizes Americans’ 401k retirements against them and their values.”
“House Republicans are doing the right thing to expose this dangerous agenda and complement the work of over two dozen states in fighting ESG standards,” Walker added. “With their combined efforts, conservatives are winning the war against ESG.”
Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, also weighed in on this week’s hearings and why he thinks they are important, noting that he is “encouraged that House leaders like Chairman McHenry are taking a stand to ensure Americans’ retirement dollars won’t be weaponized against their own interests.”
“This week’s hearings in the House Financial Services Committee are an important continuation of the national dialogue surrounding ESG and its harmful effects on consumers,” Hild told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement.
“Woke elites like BlackRock’s [CEO] Larry Fink should be concerned because these hearings make clear that Congress is zeroing in on their ESG scam,” Hild added.
BlackRock did not provide a response to Hild’s comments at the time of publication.
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