Paul Hodgson: The Republicans’ backdoor attempts to stymie US ESG legislation

Backdoor tactics to undo environmental, social and governance legislation

Unlikely to win the November election and possibly losing some power in the House and Senate, Republicans are trying backdoor ways to undo environmental, social and governance legislation that has been in place, in some cases, since 2010.
In a series of amendments to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act 2017 debated on 7 July, a variety of Republican congressmen sought to turn back the conflict minerals rule, the CEO/worker pay ratio rule, climate change risk disclosures, any progress on the so-called universal ballot, and even allowing any other financial institutions to be designated a systemically important financial institution.
Results were announced by the Office of the Clerk in the record of activities of the day. An amendment, put forward by Bill Huizenga from Michigan called for no funds appropriated in the Act to be used to enforce an SEC rule pursuant to Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank relating to ‘conflict minerals’. The final vote was 236 to 188.
Conflict minerals are minerals or their derivatives determined by the Secretary of State to be financing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country.Another amendment by Huizenga asked to prohibit the use of funds to “finalize, implement, administer, or enforce” the CEO/worker pay ratio rule.
An amendment from Florida’s Bill Posey asked to prohibit the use of funds under the Act from implementing the SEC’s ‘Regarding Disclosure Related to Climate Change’. This passed by a party line vote of 230-193.
Amendment 28 was put forward by Scott Garrett, also of Florida, seeking to prohibit the SEC from proposing or implementing a rule that mandates the use of universal proxy ballots during proxy contests. A universal ballot allows shareholders of record to vote on both an issuer’s director nominations and any opposing nominations on the same ballot. This passed by 243 to 180. Garrett’s second amendment (number 29) sought to prevent “funds being used to designate any non-bank financial institution as a systemically important financial institution”. This also passed by 239 to 182 votes.
So, all the amendments passed in the House, but what their fate will be in the Senate is a different matter. And then there is the President’s desk to get past.