Press Release: Tuberville Continues Push to Prohibit TSP Investment in America’s Adversaries

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today wrote a letter to David Jones, Acting Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), seeking clarity about the FRTIB’s policy on investing in Chinese and Russian companies. Senator Tuberville’s letter highlights the lack of transparency from the FRTIB on its international investment policy and states his intent to place a hold on all FRTIB nominees until answers have been provided by the agency. This is the first time Senator Tuberville has exercised his ability to place a hold on nominees. 

BACKGROUND:

The FRTIB oversees the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is the 401(k)-style retirement investment plan used by 6 million members of our military and federal civilian workforce. The board previously approved a plan to invest billions of dollars in Chinese companies until the policy was overturned during the Trump administration. The Trump-era ban on TSP investment in China is no longer in place, raising questions as to if the board has returned to its previous plan to invest in Chinese companies. 

  • On September 20, 2021 Senator Tuberville requested President Biden’s FRTIB nominees be referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for questioning about the agency’s investment policy. The hearing took place Thursday, March 10, 2022.
  • Last May, Senator Tuberville introduced a bill that would prohibit Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) investment in Chinese securities.  

 A copy of the letter can be found here and below. 

March 14, 2022

The Honorable David A. Jones

Acting Chairman

Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

77 K Street, NE, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Acting Chairman Jones,

I write to inquire about the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board’s (FRTIB) current policy with regards to International Stock Index Investment Fund (I Fund) investment in China and Russia.

As you are aware, a 2017 decision by the FRTIB would have linked the Thrift Savings Plan’s (TSP) I Fund to the MSCI ACWI ex USA Investable Market Index. This would have led to the investment of billions of dollars of federal military and civilian employee retirement savings in Chinese companies. Senior officials in President Trump’s administration rightly intervened prior to the implementation of the FRTIB’s decision by calling for the board to halt its plans. 

At a FRTIB board meeting held on January 26, 2021, shortly after the inauguration of President Biden, the minutes reflect that you “entertained a motion to affirm the [FRTIB’s] current investment policies.” What are the FRTIB’s current I Fund investment policies? Was the intent or result of this motion to link the I Fund with the MSCI ACWI ex USA Investment Market Index benchmark? If so, why were the minutes not transparent? 

Is the I Fund or any other TSP fund investing in Chinese securities? Does the FRTIB have any plans to invest TSP funds in Chinese securities? Is the I Fund or any other TSP fund investing in Russian securities?  Does the FRTIB have any plans to invest TSP funds in Russian securities? 

Clarification on these points is needed before the Senate can proceed with a vote on President Biden’s five nominees to the FRTIB. I intend to place holds on all nominees to the FRTIB until clear answers are provided for each question posed in this letter.

Sincerely,

Tommy Tuberville

United States Senator

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.

###