Biden's pick to chair the retirement’s savings program’s board must go through a more arduous process.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed by voice vote four of President Biden’s nominees to serve on the board of the agency that administers the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program, although one more nominee must undergo a more complicated route to his position.
With their confirmation, Leona Bridges and Stacie Olivares will replace current Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board members Ron McCray and Bill Jasien. Michael Gerber will fill the seat vacated by former Chairman Michael Kennedy, who resigned in 2020, while current member Dana Bilyeu received another term.
The four nominees had been in limbo for the last two months because a group of Republican senators placed holds on their nominations, making it more difficult for them to proceed. Led by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the lawmakers demanded a commitment that the nominees not revisit a controversial proposal to shift the Thrift Savings Plan’s international (I) fund to a more comprehensive market index that includes investments in Chinese corporations.
The board postponed its plans to shift the I Fund’s index in 2020, following political pressure from the Trump administration, and Kennedy resigned. Trump nominated an entire new slate of TSP board members, although they never were confirmed.
But last week, the senators agreed to lift their hold after they received a letter from the four nominees committing to be “highly skeptical” of changes to the Thrift Savings Plan that would expose participants to Chinese investments.
“We fully support the position of the acting chairman and would be highly skeptical of future recommendations to track this or any index that invests in Chinese companies, consistent with our fiduciary and statutory duties,” the nominees wrote. “[As] of now, as you know, China is the only country where the [Public Company Accounting Oversight Board] is unwelcome, so we believe we would not permit TSP funds to invest in Chinese companies knowing TSP participant and beneficiary assets could be subject to fraud, financial irregularities or other risks.”
Although the four nominees sailed through to confirmation this week, Javier Saade, Biden’s pick to be chairman of the board, must continue to wait for a vote on the Senate floor. When the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee considered the TSP nominees, Saade’s nomination was deadlocked 7-7 along party lines and failed to proceed. Republicans took issue with Saade’s past social media posts denigrating GOP political leaders.
As a result, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must discharge Saade’s nomination from committee in order for him to receive a confirmation vote, a much more time-consuming process.
This article was published first on GovExec, a FederalSoup partner site ("The TSP Board's Nominees Have Now Been Confirmed, With One Exception.")