Biden issues first veto after Congress passes measure to block investment rule

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President Joe Biden on Monday issued his first veto since taking office, rejecting a bipartisan measure that would nullify a new administration rule for retirement plans.

"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 posted on his Twitter account. "They couldn't take into consideration investments that would be impacted by climate, impacted by overpaying executives and that's why I decided to veto it."

The veto comes after the Senate voted 50-46 March 1 to pass a resolution to block a Labor Department rule allowing for certain retirement plans to weigh environmental, social and corporate governance factors when selecting investments, instead of making decisions based solely on the best rate of return.

In the Senate vote, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana joined Republicans to pass the measure.

The House passed it Feb. 28 in a 216-204 vote, with Rep. Jared Golden of Maine bucking his party to vote with Republicans.

A two-thirds majority is needed in each chamber to override a veto.

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., introduced the measure in February, about two months after the Labor Department issued the investment rule. Following the Senate vote, Barr tweeted: “President Biden should abandon the radical climate activists and join us in putting middle-class savers ahead of politics.”

President Joe Biden speaks in the Oval Office on Dec. 13, 2021. (Shawn Thew / EPA / Bloomberg via Getty Images file)
President Joe Biden speaks in the Oval Office on Dec. 13, 2021. (Shawn Thew / EPA / Bloomberg via Getty Images file)

In a statement on administration policy before Congress voted, the White House warned that Biden would veto the resolution if it were to reach his desk.

"The 2022 Biden-Harris Administration rule makes clear that ... fiduciaries can consider factors such as corporate accountability and transparency, climate, and liability risks if they find them relevant to the analysis of an investment’s risk and return, in the same way that they would prudently consider other relevant factors," the White House said.

Biden’s veto comes in a newly divided Congress, after two years of unified Democratic control.

Then-President Donald Trump’s first veto came in March 2019, following two years of Republican majorities in Congress. By the end of his presidency, Trump had issued 10 vetoes.

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