Rubio Ratchets Up Campaign to Bar Federal Worker Investments From Going to Chinese Firms

Rubio Ratchets Up Campaign to Bar Federal Worker Investments From Going to Chinese Firms
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on Capitol Hill on May 17, 2022. (Anna Rose Layden-Pool/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott
News Analysis
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) isn't letting up in his campaign of pressuring Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) officials against investing the savings of members of the U.S. military and civilian workforce in Chinese firms.
In an exclusive release to The Epoch Times late on June 13, Rubio made public a hard-hitting, fact-filled, 3 1/2-minute YouTube video titled "Are You Retiring in China?" Produced by his staff, it makes the case that such investments only benefit the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which controls the increasingly aggressive and hostile regime in Beijing led by Xi Jinping.

“We know these Chinese companies do not play by the rules. There is absolutely no reason the retirement savings of service-members and federal employees should be funding companies working with the Chinese government and military,” Rubio told The Epoch Times.

The FRTIB and its Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a vehicle established by a 1984 reform proposed by President Ronald Reagan to convert the federal career civil service’s main retirement program from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution approach, such as those then being widely adopted in the corporate world.

Billions of dollars have since been invested by federal workers in the TSP, making it a potentially lucrative target for sellers of indexed investment tools made up of multiple countries from a wide variety of industries.

Rubio's new video comes despite his June 2 success while working with Republican Senate colleagues in gaining a promise from President Joe Biden's four nominees to the FRTIB that they wouldn't approve any investment of military or government employee thrift savings in Chinese firms.
A Rubio aide also pointed to a recent Financial Times report that observed, "For Xi, funding China’s transformation into a global centre of high-tech innovation is central to national defense. In a speech published last year in the country’s top journal of Communist party theory, he warned that 'only by grasping key core technologies in our own hands can we fundamentally guarantee national economic security, national defense security and other securities.'”

In the video, Rubio is shown in segments from multiple speeches on the Senate floor, in media interviews, and in public addresses explaining that sending the retirement savings of soldiers and civil servants to Chinese firms only strengthens America's most dangerous international adversary.

"It is a fact that when you are doing business with a Chinese company, you are ultimately doing business with the Chinese Communist Party," Rubio tells a business association in one segment.

In another clip from a Senate floor speech, Rubio tells colleagues, "Federal employees, including members of the House and Senate, your retirement dollars are helping capitalize companies that are actively trying to put American industry out of business forever."

In a third segment, Rubio says, "This is not a political game, it has nothing to do with that, it's not about politics. Do we not understand where we are headed? You have a country that is actively saying 'We are going to displace you, we are going to be the most powerful country in the world, and we are going to do that at your expense."

Rubio has from the start been fighting the move to allow such investments, which began in 2015 under President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Last month, Rubio, joined by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), warned FRTIB Acting Chairman David Jones that the board shouldn’t implement its proposed new Mutual Fund Window, which would enable investments in multiple Chinese firms, as well as firms based in other countries that represent serious national security problems for the United States.

Also warning the FRTIB at the same time was a bipartisan duo from the House: Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.).

“U.S. service-members and other federal employees would likely be shocked to learn that the FRTIB is unaware of which companies make up these approved funds or what risk those companies pose,” the senators wrote in a May 24 letter.
“They do not want their retirement dollars to underwrite the development of the CCP’s advanced weapons systems and military modernization. They do not want to be implicated in sponsoring genocide of the Uyghur people, equipping concentration camps, and trafficking in forced labor.

“They do not want to invest in an opaque mutual fund platform in which Chinese companies do not adhere to federal securities laws or submit to adequate disclosure requirements. When they invest through TSP, they rightly expect the FRTIB will protect them and their investments from these types of dangerous investments."

In response to Rubio and the other members of Congress, the four Biden nominees agreed to oppose such investments.

“We agree that it is unfitting for Americans to invest in companies from China or elsewhere that undermine U.S. national security," the nominees told Rubio, Cotton, and Tuberville in a June 2 letter. "Congress provided the authority to the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to ban any American from making such investments.

"We fully support OFAC’s ability to exercise its authority and we commit that any company banned by OFAC, whether based in China or elsewhere, would not be included in any TSP fund.”

The four Biden nominees are Dana Bilyeu, Leona Bridges, Michael Gerber, and Stacie Olivares. If confirmed by the Senate, the nominees will join the five-member FRTIB. Rubio, who had previously put a hold on the nominations, said on June 2 that he's now removed his hold so the Senate can complete its consideration.

Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.