Fifteen senators warn Biden’s ESG push could empower university activists to ‘weaponize’ Americans’ retirement plans as anti-Israel BDS movement gains traction on campuses

A group of 15 senators say that left-wing university activists are being emboldened by the Biden administration to consider pro-BDS policies when making pension investments on behalf of Americans, in order to hurt Israel.

The Republicans led by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., are warning in a letter to Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su first obtained by that President Biden’s environment and social governance (ESG) push may have farther-reaching consequences than previously known.

Last year, the Biden administration finalized its ESG rule that empowers asset managers to ‘prioritize political ideology’ when making investments for Americans’ retirement plans. 

As a result, the senators say Biden’s policy will ‘allow activist university trustees to weaponize Americans’ retirement savings to target Israel and companies who do business with Israel.’

And this could allow retirement plans to be ‘weaponized’ and therefore hurt Americans’ pension performance. 

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., led a letter Tuesday first obtained by outlining concerns with the resurgence of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses

Cassidy’s letter Tuesday warns that there is now an increased push for universities to divest from companies who support Israel. 

The top lawmakers outline concerns with the resurgence of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses.

The BDS movement’s sole purpose is to harm Israel economically in any way possible – from boycotting Israeli-owned businesses to refusing to invest in Israel-connected companies.

Cassidy, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, says this could allow retirement plans to be ‘politicized’ and deal a blow to pension performance. 

‘We are deeply concerned that, in this environment of unrest, there is likely to be a resurgence in the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which will be used to economically harm and delegitimize the state of Israel,’ wrote the senators. 

‘Although student government resolutions are not binding, support for these initiatives can lead to a divisive atmosphere on campus.’ 

Biden has condemned the BDS movement during the 2020 campaign. 

His website stated: ‘Biden has been unequivocal in condemning calls in the United States to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.’ 

The current administration maintains that it is strongly backing Israel in its current quest to defeat Hamas after a bloody terror attack on Oct. 7 killed over 1,400. 

Congress is currently working on moving forward a proposal to send additional military aid to Israel at the request of Biden. 

Following the attack, Israel and Hamas have been engaged in war.

And there has been a progressive movement across college campuses in support of Palestine and citizens in Gaza, and against Israel. In addition, many universities have reported an uptick in antisemitic events.

The Republicans are warning that President Biden's environment and social governance (ESG) push may have farther-reaching consequences than previously known

The Republicans are warning that President Biden’s environment and social governance (ESG) push may have farther-reaching consequences than previously known

The senators point to several related instances on college campuses nationwide.

Arizona State University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter recently circulated a petition demanding the university to boycott Israel and divest from connected companies. 

In addition, Vassar College’s SJP chapter staged a walkout after demanding university leadership to ‘boycott’ two study abroad programs in Israel, while also calling for the end to U.S. assistance to it’s critical ally. 

‘The American people must be confident that pension investors will not override the economic goals, or personal views, of beneficiaries to pursue their own political agenda,’ the senators continue in the letter Tuesday. 

Cassidy was joined by Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Maine, Mike Crapo, Idaho, Roger Wicker, Mississippi, James Risch, Idaho, Ron Johnson, Wisconsin, Thom Tillis, North Carolina, Mike Rounds, South Dakota, Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee, Kevin Cramer, North Dakota, Mike Braun, Indiana, Rick Scott, Florida, Roger Marshall, Kansas, Tommy Tuberville, Alabama, and Katie Britt, Alabama.