President Trump has ordered a board not to go forward with a plan to invest United States federal employees’ retirement savings in an index that includes Chinese firms, some of which are involved in military activities, espionage, and human rights abuses.
The order was delivered to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board in a May 11, 2020, letter by Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, first reported by Fox News. Scalia wrote to the FRTIB Chairman Michael Kennedy:
At the direction of President Trump, the [Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board] is to immediately halt all steps associated with investing the I Fund according to the MSCI ACWI ex USA IMI, and to reverse its decision to invest Plan assets on the basis of that international equities index.
That order came after National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and National Economic Council Chair Larry Kudlow wrote to Scalia informing him that the White House did not want the federal employee retirement fund, known as the “Thrift Savings Plan,” to be invested in Chinese equities.
Several Republican members of Congress fought to bring awareness to the problem of American federal workers — including members of the U.S. military — having their funds go towards Chinese firms that build weapons systems for the People’s Liberation Army.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), an Army veteran, introduced a bill in May that would prevent the Thrifts Savings Plan from being invested in Chinese or Russian companies and had called on Scalia to look into the issue.
Banks tweeted Tuesday: “Thank you @SecGeneScalia for taking quick action on this issue. It’s common sense — US taxpayers shouldn’t be helping build an adversary’s military … and ours at the same time!”
Thank you @SecGeneScalia for taking quick action on this issue. It’s common sense — US taxpayers shouldn’t be helping build an adversary’s military … and ours at the same time! https://t.co/0b9mqAJULR
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) May 12, 2020
In January, he also raised awareness on state pension funds like CalPERS already being heavily invested in Chinese companies affiliated with the Chinese military and connected to human rights abuses.
Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), who is still serving in the Army, also brought attention to the issue, taking over a similar bill first sponsored by then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who is now the president’s chief of staff.