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The GOP's ESG agenda

Jul 27, 2023
Representatives Patrick McHenry and Maxine Waters

McHenry and Waters in January. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Republicans are working through a package of anti-ESG bills that represents their most comprehensive marker yet in their crusade against climate-friendly investing.

Why it matters: The package translates Republican talking points to legislation and offers a policy blueprint for a future GOP administration.

Driving the news: The Financial Services Committee was marking up four bills Thursday that would overhaul proxy voting on environmental shareholder proposals and curb regulators' authority to require climate-related disclosures from public companies.

What they're saying: The legislative slate is about "restoring our free markets and the free flow of capital," said Chair Patrick McHenry.

  • Ranking member Maxine Waters said to jeers from Republicans in the hearing room: "This committee is being forced by the extreme MAGA wing of the Republican Party to address a trove of anti-ESG, anti-investor and wholly anti-capitalist bills."

Zoom in: Republicans are particularly focused on shareholder proposals and proxy votes because activist groups have used them to push public companies to be more climate-friendly.

  • Boeing shareholders backed a similar measure from activist investor group As You Sow.
  • The bills also seek to curb the role of proxy advisory firms, which offer advice to investors about how to vote on shareholder proposals, including by requiring them to register with the SEC.

Our thought bubble: These bills probably aren't going to become law this Congress. But the ideas could be influential.

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