House Watch – March 21, 2023

Good morning and welcome to the latest edition of House Watch, where FreedomWorks informs activists and partners on upcoming House votes.

The House is in session for a short three-day week and will be in session next week as well. The House will consider H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act; we may see a historic vote to terminate the Department of Education if the Massie-Boebert amendment is made in order by the House Rules Committee. The House will also consider bills addressing U.S. foreign policy in Asia, and a resolution honoring survivors of the Holocaust.

Don’t forget to check out FreedomWorks’ tool that tracks how members of the House vote on every single bill this Congress. That tool can be found here.

Legislation To Be Considered Pursuant To A Rule:

H.R. 5: Parents Bill of Rights (Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA-05)/ Committee on Education and the Workforce)

This bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and require schools to make their curricula public, provide parents with a list of library books, and offer twice-a-year parent-teacher meetings. It would also bar the sharing of student data with ed tech companies without parental permission.

Key Vote Alert: FreedomWorks will issue a key vote YES on the Massie-Boebert amendment to terminate the Department of Education if it is ruled in order by the Rules Committee.

The Following Bills May Be Considered Under Suspension Of The Rules:

H.R. 1093: To Direct The Secretary Of State To Submit To Congress A Report On Implementation Of The Advanced Capabilities Pillar Of The Trilateral Security Partnership Between Australia, The United Kingdom, And The United States. (Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX-10)/ Committee on Foreign Affairs)

Background: In 2021, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia signed a pact, called AUKUS, to develop and expand the defensive capabilities of Australia and in addition counter China in the region. In 2023, President Biden, along with the Prime Ministers of the UK and Australia, announced the deal that the U.S. would sell three nuclear submarines to Australia and would allow military personnel from all three countries to train and work together on the submarines. 

This bill would require the Secretary of State, along with the Secretary of Defense, to submit a report to Congress on the efforts of the Department of State to implement the advanced capabilities pillar of the AUKUS partnership. The bill would also express the sense of Congress that the trilateral security progress of AUKUS is intended to positively contribute to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and that implementing AUKUS will require a whole of government review process for the three countries to benefit from the partnership and to support the joint development of advanced capabilities.

H.R. 1159: To Amend The Taiwan Assurance Act Of 2020 To Require Periodic Reviews And Updated Reports Relating To The Department Of State’s Taiwan Guidelines. (Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO-02)/ Committee on Foreign Affairs)

Background: There has been increased concern that China could try and take Taiwan by force and that China could take action to do so this decade. Taiwan is also home to some of the largest companies that produce semiconductors which are crucial to many of the goods that Americans need. 

This bill would amend the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2020 by adding that the Department of State would be required to conduct periodic reviews of the guidance that governs relations with Taiwan remains in effect and the reviews are to include descriptions on how the guidance meets the goals of ensuring that Taiwan can acquire military goods through various channels and to identify opportunities and plans to lift self-imposed restrictions on relations with Taiwan.

H.R. 406: Providing Appropriate Recognition and Treatment Needed to Enhance Relations with ASEAN Act (Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20)/ Committee on Foreign Affairs)

Background: The International Organizations Immunities Act was established in 1945 and grants international organizations the same protections from the U.S. judicial system as individual foreign governments receive. 

This bill would extend the provisions of the International Organizations Immunities Act to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that other international organizations in which the U.S. participates enjoy. 

H. Con. Res. 25: Authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for a ceremony as part of the commemoration of the days of remembrance of victims of the Holocaust.

This resolution would authorize Emancipation Hall, in the Capitol Visitors Center, to be used on April 20, 2023, for a ceremony as part of the commemoration of the days of remembrance of victims of the Holocaust. 

Legislation That May Be Considered:

Veto Message on H.J. Res. 30: Providing For Congressional Disapproval Under Chapter 8 Of Title 5, United States Code, Of The Rule Submitted By The Department Of Labor Relating To “Prudence And Loyalty In Selecting Plan Investments And Exercising Shareholder Rights” (Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY-06)/ Committee On Education And The Workforce)

Background: The Department of Labor (DOL) implemented a rule late last year to make it easier for employers to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors when choosing 401(k) plan investments. The rule overturns a Trump administration rule that restricted retirement plan decision-makers (fiduciaries) to using only financial factors in choosing investments. So-called ESG funds generally charge higher fees and offer lower returns. Moreover, researchers at Columbia University and the London School of Economics found ESG funds may not even be achieving their goals. The study compared the ESG records of American companies in 147 ESG fund portfolios to ones in over 2,000 non-ESG portfolios and found that the ESG companies were often worse when it came to labor and environmental law compliance.

This resolution states that Congress disapproves the rule adopted by the Department of Labor on the “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights” and that the rule would have no force or effect.

Relevant Info: This resolution passed the House on February 28 by a vote of 216-204 and it passed the Senate on March 1 by a vote of 50-46. President Biden vetoed this resolution on March 20, 2023. 

FW View: FreedomWorks supports this bill and believes that these ESG standards place this left-wing social justice agenda ahead of companies’ and investment firms’ fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders and clients. FreedomWorks has also been critical of the DOL rule, saying that it would “permit and even tacitly encourage portfolio managers at firms such as BlackRock to violate their fiduciary duty to their clients by allowing ESG factors to trump sound investment decisions.”

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Related Legislators

US Representative KY-6

Andy Barr

US Representative LA-5

Julia Letlow

US Representative MO-2

Ann Wagner

US Representative TX-20

Joaquin Castro

US Representative TX-10

Michael McCaul