Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has placed a hold on four nominations to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, Washington, until the nominees commit to withhold Thrift Savings Plan assets from Chinese companies.
"We are deeply concerned by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board's 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," Mr. Rubio and Sens. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in an April 5 letter to the four nominees. "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 FRTIB administers the $769.5 billion TSP, the retirement system for 6.5 million federal employees and members of the uniformed services.
In November 2019, the board reaffirmed 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, according to an Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting study presented to the board in October 2019.
But in May 2020, Trump administration officials sent a letter to then-FRTIB Chairman Michael D. Kennedy urging the board to stop the I Fund index shift. The same week, President Donald Trump nominated three people to the five-member board that, upon Senate confirmation, could have led to a new majority. At a subsequent meeting in May 2020, the board decided to pause the implementation and let the new board members make the final decision.
To date, no new board members have been confirmed. The Trump nominees were never considered by the full Senate, and President Joe Biden pulled their nominations in February 2021. Mr. Biden put forth his own nominees in September and November.