March 22, 2023

Proxy Voting & Investments: DOL’s “ESG” Rule Survives Death Threat

On Monday, President Biden vetoed a resolution that would have overturned the latest version of the DOL’s “ESG” rule, which was vulnerable because it was just finalized in November. I blogged about the rule on our “Proxy Season Blog” at that time – it allows ERISA fiduciaries to consider ESG factors in the selection of investments for retirement plans and in proxy voting.

With this being the first veto of Biden’s Presidency, it’s getting a lot of press – including on this recent episode of “The Daily” podcast, which succinctly overviews “the state of ESG” for anyone who’s understandably lost track of the back & forth.

Unfortunately for those of us who spend time on ESG-related shareholder resolutions and engagements, we know that this is just the latest chapter in a saga that has been playing out for many years – with the Biden Administration’s 2022 iteration of the rule changing a version that had been finalized by the Trump Administration in 2020 that would have prohibited consideration of ESG factors by ERISA fiduciaries in investing, and so on, back to at least 2015. I personally am finding that this history makes it harder to share in any excitement or outrage that is accompanying this veto.

We’re keeping track of the various iterations of the DOL regs & guidance in our “ESG” Practice Area (and on For now, you just need to know that nothing is changing…but if history is any guide, it probably will in the future.

Liz Dunshee