The fate of three nominees to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, Washington, is uncertain as the 116th Congress nears its end.
The nominations of Christopher Bancroft Burnham, John M. Barger and Frank Dunlevy were approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in September, but the full Senate has yet to consider them. Mr. Dunlevy would also be board chairman if confirmed.
President Donald Trump in May nominated each of them to the five-member board, which administers the $690.6 billion Thrift Savings Plan, the retirement system for 5.9 million federal employees and members of the uniformed services.
It's unclear why the Senate has not voted on their nominations. A spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not respond to questions on the matter.
Kim Weaver, the board's external director, declined comment.
If the nominees do not get a vote in the Senate before the new Congress begins Jan. 3, they would have to be renominated or President-elect Joe Biden could nominate other candidates to the board after he's sworn in Jan. 20.
The nominations came amid a point of controversy for the board as lawmakers on Capitol Hill and Trump administration officials pressed the board to reverse a 2017 decision to shift the TSP's I Fund benchmark to the MSCI ACWI ex-U.S. Investible Market index from the MSCI EAFE index. The new index was made up of about 8% Chinese companies, as of Sept. 30, 2019, according to an Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting study presented to the board in October.
In November 2019, the board reaffirmed its decision to move forward with the shift, which was slated to start in the second half of 2020, but the week after Mr. Trump nominated the new board members in May, his administration urged the board to halt the shift. The following day, the board elected to press pause and let the potential new members make the final call.
Messrs. Barger, Burnham and Dunlevy were each nominated to fill seats held by board members whose terms have expired. The board currently has four members. Chairman Michael D. Kennedy stepped down in June following the nomination of Mr. Dunlevy, vice president of investment funds and counselor to the CEO of U.S. International Development Finance Corp., to replace him for a term expiring in September 2022.
If confirmed, Mr. Barger, managing director of NorthernCross Partners, an investment advisory firm, would replace David A. Jones, the board's acting chairman, for a term expiring in October 2022; and Mr. Burnham, chairman and CEO of Cambridge Global Capital, a private venture capital firm, would replace Ronald McCray for a term expiring in September 2024.