President Biden is facing scrutiny from one moderate Democrat in the Senate after he decided to reject bipartisan legislation to prevent his administration from enforcing a rule about using environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investments for retirement accounts.
Shortly after Biden issued the first veto of his presidency on Monday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., took aim at him for his decision, accusing the president of prioritizing a “radical policy agenda” over the economic desires of Americans.
“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,” Manchin, who has not declared whether he will seek re-election in 2024, wrote in a statement.
Manchin was one of two Democratic senators who voted with Republicans to overturn the Labor Department rule on ESG investing, along with Montana Sen. Jon Tester. Manchin said Biden’s veto came as residents in Montana are “under increasing stress as we continue to recover” from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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. The Administration’s unrelenting campaign to advance a radical social and environmental agenda is only exacerbating these challenges,” Manchin said. “This ESG rule will weaken our energy, national and economic security while jeopardizing the hard-earned retirement savings of 150 million West Virginians and Americans.”
“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,” he added.
After issuing the veto, Biden defended his decision on social media and claimed the legislation “would put at risk the retirement savings” of Americans.
“I just signed this veto because the legislation passed by the Congress would put at risk the retirement savings of individuals across the country,” Biden said in a video shared to Twitter.
The bill would have ended enforcement of a new Labor Department rule that urged private retirement plan fiduciaries to consider ESG in their investment decisions.
Under the rule, fiduciaries that make investment decisions for the retirement plans of more than 150 million people would be explicitly permitted under federal guidelines to consider companies’ approach to climate change and other social issues, instead of focusing on only profitability and return on investment for retirees.
Congressional Republicans, understandably, are also not happy with the president’s decision to veto the legislation — especially bill architect Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky.
“President Biden’s first veto is on a bipartisan, bicameral measure that I championed through Congress to protect retail investors,” Barr told Fox News Digital. “Instead of siding with Americans — who are increasingly unable to afford retirement — Biden’s veto puts the climate activists and special interest groups he is beholden to ahead of middle-class American investors.”
“It’s a shame, and it further reflects his priorities and who he really represents in office,” Barr added.
With Biden’s veto, the legislation now returns to Congress, but it is unlikely to receive the two-thirds majority support required to overcome a presidential veto.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom, Houston Keene, and Peter Kasperowicz contributed to this article.