Press Release: Tuberville, Colleagues Ask Biden Nominees to Protect Federal Employees’ Retirement Funds from Chinese Firms

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), sent a letter to four of President Joe Biden’s nominees to serve on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) requesting that they commit to withholding the retirement savings of U.S. service members and other federal employees from investment in Chinese firms that undermine U.S. national security. 

Senator Tuberville has been outspoken on this issue. In May of 2021, Senator Tuberville introduced legislation to prohibit investment of Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) funds in any entity based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The TSP is the predominant government retirement fund utilized by 6,000,000 military members and federal civilian employees and is governed by the FRTIB. Additionally, Senator Tuberville pressed top administration officials for clarity about the FRTIB’s policy on investing in Chinese and Russian companies, wrote about the national security risk investment in CCP-backed entities poses for the United States, and spoke about the issue on the Senate Floor and during an interview on Fox Business. Senator Tuberville also placed a hold, a procedural maneuver to prevent confirmation without a vote by the full Senate, on all four nominees to the FRTIB until clarity is provided.

“We are deeply concerned by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board’s (FRTIB) history of voting to invest federal employees’ retirement savings into China-based companies, including firms involved in the Chinese government’s military, espionage, human rights abuses, and aggressive industrial policy designed to undermine U.S. industry,” the senators wrote. “The FRTIB’s previous actions have demonstrated a willingness to invest American retirement savings into Chinese companies working to undermine U.S. interests and national security, as well as exposing federal employees’ retirement savings to considerable risk. This cannot be allowed in the future.”

The full text of the letter can be found is below. 

Dear Mr. Gerber, Ms. Bilyeu, Ms. Olivares, and Ms. Bridges:

We are deeply concerned by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board’s (FRTIB) history of voting to invest federal employees’ retirement savings into China-based companies, including firms involved in the Chinese government’s military, espionage, human rights abuses, and aggressive industrial policy designed to undermine U.S. industry. The FRTIB’s previous actions have demonstrated a willingness to invest American retirement savings into Chinese companies working to undermine U.S. interests and national security, as well as exposing federal employees’ retirement savings to considerable risk. This cannot be allowed in the future.

We have repeatedly voiced our concerns with the FRTIB’s 2017 decision to change the Thrift Savings Plan’s (TSP) International Stock Fund, or the “I Fund,” to mirror the MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Investable Market Index. In 2020, after considerable congressional pressure, the FRTIB announced that it had “deferred” the I Fund’s transition to a new benchmark index. Today, the fund continues to mirror the MSCI Europe, Australasia and Far East (EAFE) Index. Had the planned transition taken place, China would be receiving the third-most investment of any nation in the fund, potentially exposing billions of dollars in federal employee retirement assets to risks associated with many of the Chinese companies included in the index.

We write asking for your commitment to protect federal employees’ savings and the national security of the United States. In particular:

·      Do you commit to ensuring that the TSP’s I Fund does not mirror the MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Investable Market Index?

·      Do you commit to ensuring that no sums in the Thrift Savings Fund are invested in any security that is listed on an exchange in a jurisdiction in which the PCAOB is prevented from conducting a complete inspection or investigation of a registered public accounting firm under section 104 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 because of a position taken by an authority in that jurisdiction, as determined by the PCAOB?

·      Do you commit to voting to ensure that no federal employee retirement funds go to any Chinese firms that undermine U.S. national security?

We look forward to your prompt reply. 

Sincerely,


Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.

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