Illinois Judge Issues the Second Block to Ban ‘Assault Weapons’

February 4, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

An Illinois judge issued a second temporary restraining order on Thursday against a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.
The lawsuit (pdf), filed by 1,690 plaintiffs against Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.) in January, argued that the Protect Illinois Communities Act (HB 5471) violated multiple clauses in the Illinois Constitution, including the single subject rule, three readings clause, due process clause, and equal protection clause.
White County Resident Circuit Judge T. Scott Webb dismissed the first three allegations but ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on the fourth claim, the violation of the equal protection clause.
Webb noted that since there is no legislative history for the court to review regarding how the legislature chose who to exempt from the ban, “this Court finds that the Act fails to meet the standard.”
“To this end, this Court finds that the Plaintiffs have established a protectable right and are likely to succeed on the merits,” he wrote in his ruling (pdf).
The Democratic-controlled Illinois legislature passed the law in January imposing restrictions on a range of semi-automatic firearms, ammunition magazines, and devices that increase the firing speed of weapons. The legislation also mandated that individuals who legally possess these items must register them with the state police, and prohibited the sale and transfer of such firearms and accessories.
However, certain groups of people, including law enforcement officers, military personnel, corrections officers, and others, were excluded from the restrictions.
Judge Joshua Morrison in Effingham County issued the first temporary restraining order in January (pdf), ruling that the law violated the time frame set out in the Illinois Constitution for its passage.
An NRA sticker is on display as people gather for the 12th annual Second Amendment March sponsored by Michigan Open Carry, Inc and Second Amendment March outside of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Sept. 23, 2021. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)
Procedural Defects ‘Most Concerning’
Webb noted that the original text of the law was changed in what seemed to be an attempt to avoid debate and ensure a quick passage.
“This Court finds the procedural defects in the passing of the Act most concerning. The fact that the original text of the Act was introduced as HB 5855 is disconcerting at best,” Webb wrote. “It is apparent that the legislature knew that it would not have time to follow the correct procedures, i.e., three readings, and pass the bill.”
“In what seems to be a clear attempt to avoid debate and ensure lightning-like passage, they gutted the original contents of HB 5471 (insurance regulation) and replaced it with the contents of HB 5855,” he continued.
According to Webb, the court views the actions of the legislature as “a blatant violation of the three readings requirement of the Illinois Constitution.”
Despite these concerns, the judge said that he lacked the authority to rule in favor of the plaintiffs on that count due to a recent opinion by the Fifth District Appellate Court on the same issue.
As a result, Webb denied the request for a temporary restraining order based on the three readings clause allegations. He also denied the third count regarding due process, citing the same opinion.
Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., on June 26, 2021. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)
Equal Protection
The equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution requires the government to treat similarly situated people the same unless the government can demonstrate a reason to treat them differently, Webb noted.
Since the bill is related to the fundamental right to bear arms, Webb said in his ruling that the legislation should only restrict this right in a very limited manner that serves a “compelling state interest.” Further, a strict standard of scrutiny should have been applied during the legislative process.
The defendants claimed that the plaintiffs could not argue for equal protection rights under the Illinois Constitution as they could have argued for their Second Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. However, Webb did not agree with this argument.
The defendants also argued that the plaintiffs did not show how they were similar to the individuals exempt from the ban. But Webb said that without legislative history to review, it was “almost impossible” to determine why some were exempt and others were not, as the legislature provided no explanation for the classification.
“It has been speculated that the legislature chose the classifications to exempt based upon firearms training. Again, this is mere speculation because there exists no legislative history or debate record to aid this Court in understanding the foundational basis for the exemptions,” Webb wrote.
Webb noted that the plaintiffs raised questions in oral arguments about the unclear training requirements for prison wardens being exempt, and also noted the inconsistency in exempting active-duty military but not veterans, who may have similar firearms training.
According to the court filing, the defendants further argued that the right to bear arms is not guaranteed by the Illinois Constitution, but Webb disagreed, stating that “it simply cannot be the case” for the Illinois Constitution to provide less protection against “government intrusion” than the U.S. Constitution.
Demonstrators gather for a Second Amendment rally at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Wash., on March 20, 2021. (David Ryder/Getty Images)
‘Erosion of a Fundamental Right’
The defendants argued that the law was passed to curtail mass shootings, but Webb noted that there was no legislative history “to shed light on that issue.”
Webb said that no studies had been submitted or even referenced that demonstrate how such a ban would alleviate mass shootings.
“[T]his Court is left only to speculate as to how exempting certain individuals from the Act, while not exempting others, who seem to possess similar firearms training would further the deter mass shootings,” Webb wrote.
The judge ultimately found that the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if the temporary restraining order wasn’t granted, noting that the issue related to “the erosion of a fundamental right, the right to bear arms, by treating what appears to be similarly situated people differently.”

House to vote on Bill to End International Air Travel COVID-19 Vaccine Mandat

February 4, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

The House of Representatives is set to vote next week on a bill that, if passed and signed into law, would remove the requirement for proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for non-U.S. citizens who seek to fly into the United States.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) separately confirmed Friday of the upcoming vote for HR 185.
“We are voting next week to end the vax mandate on legal foreign air travelers,” Massie, who introduced the measure on Jan. 9, announced on Twitter. “There’s never been a mandate on U.S. Representatives, Senators, or their staff, so how can we vote in good conscience to mandate it on others? We need to end this policy now.”
“The CDC’s unscientific mandate is separating too many people from their families and has been doing so for far too long. It needs to end,” he wrote in another post.
Responding to a query about whether the bill addresses land border crossings from Canada, Massie wrote: “Unfortunately it does not. I asked to add that to my bill as an amendment but the parliamentarians say it’s not germane, because the air mandate is based on CDC and the land mandate is promulgated by DHS.
“But, if we can pass this, there’s a strong case for passing that soon.”
The U.S. Travel Association, a national nonprofit representing travel businesses, supports Massie’s proposed bill.
“We have long supported the removal of this requirement and see no reason to wait until the May expiration of the public health emergency—particularly as potential visitors are planning spring and summer travel,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, the executive vice president of public affairs and policy.
Barnes is referring to the Biden administration’s plan to end the national COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11.
“Every day this policy remains in place encourages some travelers to avoid the U.S., costing us valuable visitor spending and delaying our efforts to reignite inbound travel,” Barnes added.
“The U.S. is the only country that still has this requirement for international visitors when there is no longer any public health justification. We thank the bill’s sponsors for their efforts to remove this outdated, COVID-era policy and normalize inbound travel operations.”
The latest directive (pdf) from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that effective to at least April 10, aircraft operators must require each non-U.S., nonimmigrant citizen to present paper or digital documentation for “proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19″ before boarding a flight to the United States. There are some limited exceptions.
A “nonimmigrant” means not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa.
The Biden administration in June 2022 had dropped its requirement for non-U.S., nonimmigrant citizens entering the United States by air to test negative for COVID-19.
But it has since imposed new requirements for most travelers from China, Hong Kong, or Macau, to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country—regardless of citizenship or vaccination status. Others who also need to test negative include those traveling from Seoul, Toronto, and Vancouver who were in China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the past 10 days.
Reuters contributed to this report.

DeSantis Admin Renews Liquor License from Orlando Venue for Allowing Children to Attend Drag Queen Christmas

February 4, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

The state of Florida is yanking the liquor license of an Orlando performance venue, saying the “Drag Queen Christmas” show it hosted in December was sexually explicit while being marketed to families and children.
Advertising for the event “did not provide notice as to the sexually explicit nature of the Show’s performance or other content,” the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco said in its complaint against the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation Inc., filed Feb. 3.
“Respondent promoted the Show using targeted, Christmas-themed promotional materials that did not provide notice as to the sexually explicit nature of the Show’s performance or other content,” the complaint said, referencing a photo of the event’s listing online included as evidence.
“Rather than call attention to the Show’s sexually explicit content or acknowledge that it might not be appropriate for children, Respondent’s promotional material unequivocally stated “all ages welcome.”
“Prior to the Show occurring and based on media reports about the Show at other locations, Petitioner sent a letter to Respondent notifying Respondent that ‘sexually explicit drag show performances constitute public nuisances, lewd activity and disorderly conduct when minors are in attendance’ and that, if Respondent failed to ensure that minors were prohibited from attending such performances, its license would be subject to penalties up to and including revocation.”
Notice on Door
The center nevertheless allowed minors to attend, the complaint states. Its only response was to post a notice on its door that said, “while we are not restricting access to anyone under 18 please be advised some may think the context is not appropriate for under 18.”
The notice was barely visible, as it was printed in small font on a piece of paper taped to the door, the state said in the complaint.
The complaint includes photos of children attending the event and some of the objectionable content as evidence.
The complaint charges the arts center with six counts: allowing performers to expose themselves in a lewd or lascivious manner and simulate sexual activity in the presence of children under 16; operating a “place of lewdness”; “allowing performers to expose prosthetic genitalia and breasts in a vulgar or indecent manner in the presence of children”; knowingly selling tickets to an obscene performance to an audience including children; disorderly conduct; and maintaining a nuisance.
In the complaint, the division’s attorney asks its director, Sterling Whisenhunt, to revoke the center’s liquor license.
The complaint describes examples of the show’s sexually explicit content, which The Epoch Times does not include in this account.
Efforts to reach the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation Inc. were unsuccessful. The nonprofit group has yet to respond to an email from The Epoch Times.
“Governor (Ron) DeSantis stands to protect the innocence of children, and the governor always follows through when he says he will do something,” his spokesman, Bryan Griffin, said in an email on Feb. 3.
Griffin had said on Dec. 27 that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation was investigating the show. The department was aware, he said, of multiple complaints about a performance of the show in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 26.
By contrast, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater clearly stated for a Dec. 29 performance of the show that attendance was restricted to those 18 or older, and proof of age would be required.
Independent journalist Tayler Hanson, who attended one of the shows, told The Epoch Times in December he is glad someone is doing something.
“I’m thankful to see someone taking action regarding the sexually explicit ‘all-ages’ Drag Queen Christmas Tour that I reported on earlier this month,” Hansen told The Epoch Times.
“Simulated sodomy, exposed fake breasts, and sexually explicit language has no place around children. There is no such thing as a ‘family-friendly’ or ‘all-ages’ drag show. Florida has once again continued to lead the way when it comes to protecting children.”

Senator Manchin criticizes Biden Administration’s push for ESG Rules to phase out fossil fuels

February 4, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

Sen. Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) on Thursday delivered a sharp rebuke to a new Department of Labor (DOL) rule that he and GOP lawmakers believe encourages the investment of retirement money not according to traditional criteria of maximizing profits but instead in accordance with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards.
Speaking on a segment of “America’s Newsroom” alongside Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Manchin railed against the Biden administration rule that went into effect this week. Braun is the author of a disapproval resolution filed in response to the rule and enjoying the support of every GOP member of the Senate along with Manchin.
Manchin argued that carbon emissions have already been significantly reduced through adherence to ESG criteria and that the DOL’s new rule is both premature and dangerous to the nation’s economic health and self-sufficiency.
“Why don’t they look at the geopolitical risk that’s involved? Why don’t you evaluate that too? Why don’t you ask Europe what’s happened to them? Ask Germany what’s happened to their economy. Look at what Putin did to weaponize energy,” Manchin said.
“The geopolitical risk should be evaluated the same as anything else because the fallout would be, if you’re trying to put pressure and get rid of fossil [fuel] before we have anything to replace it, you are going to damage our economy and make our country much weaker.”
Manchin characterized himself as a fighter for energy security.
Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) speaks during a Senate Special Committee of Aging hearing on “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Seniors: A Look at Racial Health Disparities” at the Capitol in Washington on July 21, 2020. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
For his part, Braun cited a five-year study finding a 2.5 percent differential between the financial results obtained by investing on the basis of ESG standards as opposed to the more traditional criteria that ask what strategies would bring the greatest profits for investors.
“It affects 152 million Americans in their retirement 401Ks, about $12 trillion,” Braun said.
“Do the math, 2.5 percent on $12 trillion, you should not be burdened with trying to push any political agenda where you’re going to impact the hard earnings that you give to someone else in trust that you’re going to make the right decision,” he said.
“To me it’s shameful and it’s a heavy overreach that you get from the federal government.”
Braun said that his resolution seeking to revoke the new rule is the only means available to him and like-minded lawmakers in the face of such overreach, which he called an example of “government gone wild.”
‘When the Market’s Ready’
Manchin expanded on his argument that the country is not ready for the immediate elimination of fossil fuels and the widespread adoption of other sources of energy.
“They’re trying to accelerate getting rid of fossil. The market will tell you when there’s something to replace the fossil and the horsepower that comes from the coal, the gas, and the oil that we do cleaner than anywhere else in the world,” Manchin said.
“The market will move when the market’s ready to move and replace it. We’re not ready yet, and for the administration to move in and accelerate that before we’re ready just puts the economy in jeopardy and also the return on investments that people need for their retirement.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to the DOL for comment.

China’s Spy Balloon Claims Rejected by the Pentagon

February 4, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

The Pentagon said Friday that a Chinese spy balloon had moved eastward and was over the central United States, and that the United States rejected China’s claims that it was not being used for surveillance.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, refused to provide details on exactly where the balloon was or whether there was any new consideration of shooting it down.
The military had ruled that option out, officials had said, due to potential risks to people on the ground.
Ryder said it was at an altitude of about 60,000 feet, was maneuverable, and had changed course.
He said it currently was posing no threat and there was only one balloon being tracked.
Earlier, the U.S. announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had postponed a planned high-stakes weekend diplomatic trip to China as the Biden administration weighed a broader response to the discovery of a high-altitude Chinese balloon flying over sensitive sites in the western United States.
That abrupt decision came despite China’s claim that the balloon was a weather research “airship” that had blown off course.
“We are aware of the PRC statement. The fact is we know it is a surveillance balloon,” Ryder said. “We know the balloon has violated U.S. airspace and international law, which is unacceptable. we have conveyed this directly to the PRC at multiple levels.”
Discovery of the balloon was announced by Pentagon officials who said one of the places it was spotted was over the state of Montana, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Pentagon Says Another Chinese Spy Balloon Travels Over Latin America

February 4, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

A second Chinese spy balloon is currently traversing Latin America, Pentagon confirmed late on Feb. 3 amid rising concern about a Chinese surveillance balloon hovering eastward across the continental United States.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement to media outlets.
The comment came hours after Ryder was pressed at a briefing with reporters about a Canadian defense ministry statement on Friday that they were monitoring a “potential second incident,” and whether the United States is doing the same. Ryder in response referred the question back to the Canadian authorities.
The first Chinese balloon, which military officials described to be a “high altitude surveillance balloon,” appeared earlier this week above the state of Montana, home to one of the country’s three nuclear missile silo fields.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday postponed a trip to Beijing that would have marked the highest profile U.S. visit to China over the balloon, calling the balloon “irresponsible” and “a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law.”
“[China’s] decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have,” he told reporters.
The Department of Defense wouldn’t confirm the balloon’s exact location, its size, and other details on Friday other than saying that the balloon is maneuverable, has changed course at some point, and that it is currently flying at 60,000 ft eastward across the country.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Feb. 3, 2023. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden was first briefed on the matter on Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Jan. 3, and was given the “strong recommendation” by military leaders not to shoot it down due to the risk that falling debris may harm civilians.
A senior defense official said the U.S. has taken unspecified mitigation measures against the balloon, adding that it was assessed that the device had “limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective over and above what [China] can do through other means.”
The Chinese regime has claimed that the balloon over the United States is a civilian meteorological balloon from China that was blown off course. In response, Ryder said, “The fact is we know it’s a surveillance balloon.”
Costa Rica Reports
Ryder didn’t specify which country the balloon is currently hovering over, but local reports have cited sightings of a white balloon of mysterious origin over Costa Rica, which the country’s civil aviation authorities said doesn’t have a fly authorization.
“My big concern with the Chinese balloon flight is if this is a test to see how fast we react and what we do,” Art Thompson, CEO of California-based company Sage Cheshire Aerospace which provides stratospheric balloon launching and research services, told The Epoch Times.
The two balloons appear to have been launched from different locations, he said. The photos Thomson examined of the two balloons, over the United States and Costa Rica, show that they are very similar in style.
“When I look at the trajectory, the question is, where did they launch it from? And it could have been launched from mainland China, and then just drifted over and would have done a little oscillation in its flight,” he said.
Thompson has advocated for the United States to shoot down the balloon currently moving eastward over the nation with laser weapons. He believes that U.S. authorities still have several days to take action before the balloon reaches international waters, but the one over Costa Rica would have a much shorter timeline.
“It’s going to be out of touch fairly quickly because in Costa Rica, they’re going to be across into the gulf pretty fast,” he said.
“The Chinese are definitely testing us and preparing for something.”

Missouri Governor: Zero News from Biden on Chinese Spy Balloons Now Flying Above His State

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons still hasn’t heard anything from the Biden administration about a Chinese surveillance balloon that has drifted over Missouri airspace in its eastward path across the United States, a Parsons staffer confirmed to The Epoch Times late in the afternoon on Feb. 3.
“We have received zero communication from the Biden Administration regarding reports of the suspected Chinese spy balloon now flying over Missouri,” Parsons wrote on Twitter on the afternoon of Feb. 3.
“We have heard no explanation or plan to remove it. Why has this been allowed to reach our heartland? Why has it not been eliminated?” he added.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Kansas City posted that same day photographs of a balloon seen in the area on Twitter, writing, “We have confirmed that it is not an NWS weather balloon.”
Parsons’ comment comes as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has called for an investigation into the object and its appearance by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) listens during a hearing in Washington, Sept. 23, 2020. (Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images)
“This is a gross violation of American sovereignty,” Hawley wrote in a letter to the committee’s chair, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
“This is a matter of homeland security, and we should hear from senior members of the Biden Administration to understand their response, or lack thereof, so far.”
A staffer for Hawley did not confirm whether the lawmaker has been in communication with the Biden White House.
The Epoch Times has also reached out to Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) and the White House.
‘Debris Field’ Cited in Decision Not to Shoot It Down
The balloon was previously seen over Montana, the site of multiple nuclear silos. Before that it passed over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and Canada.
Defense Department spokesperson Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said on Feb. 3 that the balloon, spotted over Montana on Feb. 2, would likely remain over the United States for multiple days.
A senior defense official on Feb. 2 told reporters that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other top defense leadership convened Feb. 1 to discuss the proper course of action regarding the balloon.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at the Pentagon in Washington on Dec. 14, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
The official said the group arrived at a “strong recommendation” not to shoot it down “due to the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field.”
“Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years,” the official said, adding that the United States had been monitoring the balloon “for some time.”
“It has happened a handful of other times over the past few years, to include before this administration.”
China has said the object is not meant to spy on the United States.
“It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” reads a statement from the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The statement went on to claim that winds and the craft’s “limited self-steering capability” led it to “[deviate] far from its planned course.”
The Pentagon disagrees.
The Pentagon building in Washington, on Dec. 26, 2011. (AFP via Getty Images)
“We are aware of the PRC statement. The fact is we know it is a surveillance balloon,” Ryder told reporters on Feb. 3.

Climate Agenda of the Biden Administration Will Hurt Two-Thirds Of US Retirement Accounts: Kobach

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

The Biden administration’s new Department of Labor (DOL) rule allowing 401(k) managers to invest in Environmental Social Governance (ESG) funds will harm two-thirds of America’s retirement accounts, according to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach in an interview that aired on Newsmakers by NTD and The Epoch Times on Feb. 1.
Kobach said that the Jan. 30 change was being done “in the name of this left-wing partisan agenda.”
He said, “There should be no partisan agenda when it comes to investing our funds. It should be done based purely on financial return without any regard to whether it helps left-wing causes or right-wing causes.”
Kansas is one of the 25 states suing the Biden administration over its rule allowing 401(k) managers leeway to invest in ESG funds by stipulating that the managers can decide to invest by considering “nonpecuniary benefits.”
Meaning they can make investing decisions where the benefits aren’t related to financial gain.
Republican Kris Kobach is Kansas’s attorney general. (Courtesy of Kobach campaign)
“What this latest rule does is it basically says you can consider these non-pecuniary factors when deciding where to invest the retirees’ funds,” Kobach said.
“And our lawsuit says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, that violates the express terms of [the Employee Retirement Income Security Act] ERISA,’ which is the 1973 Act that President [Gerald Ford] signed into law that is designed to protect the employee retirement savings in these funds.
“And we’re saying, ‘Look, you, as an agency—and it’s the Department of Labor under Biden that’s doing this—as an agency, you can enact regulations, but your regulations cannot contradict the exact express terms of the law.
“Section 404 A of the law says very clearly that [401(k) managers] have to act for the economic benefit of the retiree, for the person whose assets are being invested.”
An ‘Illegal Rule’
According to Kobach, the new ESG rule is illegal as it didn’t go through Congress.
“It’s illegal … an agency cannot contradict the terms of the law that gives the agency the authority to act,” Kobach said.
“If President Biden wanted to do this, he should try to change the law. He should try to change the terms of the ERISA statute and allow ESG considerations to weigh into the investment of these funds.
“I think that would be a horrible idea because it would mean we would gain less return on our retirement assets. But he can’t do this unilaterally. As an executive, he can’t use his agency’s regulatory authority to do this. He has to go through Congress to do it.”
Circling back to the impact of the ESG rule, Kobach added, “[The rule] basically means that [fund managers] can take into account things other than financial value, financial return, or pecuniary interests.
Financial Return Only
“So, it opens up the door for the investment adviser who thinks, ‘Well, you know, I think, you know, saving the Earth from climate change is a long-term interest that my investment strategy ought to consider.’
“Well, that’s not what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re supposed to be looking at the financial return and the financial return only.”
Kobach added about the impact on retirement accounts, “What that means in real terms is that companies that have anything to do with oil or fossil fuels, anything to do with firearms, anything to do, increasingly now with things like agriculture, and the beef industry, are going to be excluded.
“And that means that in almost every case, the return on investment for those funds is going to be lower because you’re taking investment options off the table.”
Kobach said he’s confident the states’ case against Biden will succeed.
Bipartisan Pushback
In addition to the states’ lawsuit challenging the legality of the Biden administration’s new ESG rule, every GOP Senator—plus Democrat Joe Manchin (W.Va.)—signed on to a disapproval resolution, protesting against the DOL directive.
The resolution alleges that the Biden administration is putting the pensions of 152 million Americans at risk to support “climate and social justice.”
“A number of studies have shown that ESG investing policies have worse rates of return. For example, a study by UCLA and NYU found that over the past five years, ESG funds underperformed the broader market, averaging a 6.3 percent return compared to 8.9 percent return respectively.
“Additionally, in comparison to other investment plans, ESG investors generally end up paying higher costs for worse performance,” a statement from Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) says.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) speaks during a Senate Budget Committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office building in Washington on Feb. 17, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) is leading a similar resolution in the House. His press release declares, “Retirement plans should be solely focused on delivering maximum returns, not advancing a political agenda.
“If Congress doesn’t block the Department of Labor’s rule greenlighting ESG investing in retirement plans, retirees will suffer diminished returns on the investment of their hard-earned money.
“It’s time for Congress to act and I applaud Senator Braun and our colleagues for renewing this fight.”

Senate Nominates US Institute of Peace Board of Directors Member

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

On Feb. 2, the Senate floor voted on the nomination of Joseph Lee Falk to be a member of the U.S. Institute of Peace Board of Directors.
The vote counted 60 yeas, 37 nays, and three abstentions. Two independents, 48 Democrats, and 10 Republicans voted yes. However, 37 Republicans voted no. Two other GOP senators and one Independent did not vote.
According to the White House, in his nominations sent to the Senate on Jan. 3 and Sept. 19, 2022., President Joe Biden nominated Falk to be a member of the U.S. Institute of Peace Board of Directors.
The United States Institute of Peace is a national organization formed by Congress to advance the belief that a world free of violent conflict is possible and essential for U.S. and world security.
On July 29, 2022, Biden announced major leaders who would serve under his administration, including Falk.
Falk, who lives in Miami, Florida, is a mortgage broker and a consultant for the Akerman legal firm. He is a former president and legislative chairman of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.
He is the author of the “Model State Statute Initiative for the Licensing and Education of All Originators,” which led to the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE) of 2008. The legislation requires a national licensing and registration system for mortgage loan originators (MLO) of residential mortgage loans.
Then-President Barack Obama appointed him as a J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board member.
The Fulbright Program offers participants selected for their academic merit and leadership potential the chance to study, teach, and carry out research, as well as exchange ideas and contribute to the solution of common international challenges. The grants are available for U.S. citizens to go overseas and for non-U.S. citizens with no permanent residency in the United States to visit the country.
Falk is also a board member of the Victory Fund, which supports LGBT candidates running for various offices in the United States.
He is a former chairman of SAVE, a Florida-based LGBT advocacy group. According to the group’s website, “SAVE is committed to promoting local, state, and federal policy change by building community consensus and supporting political leaders committed to ending LGBTQ discrimination.”
Falk will be a member of the U.S. Insitute of Peace Board of Directors for four years now that George Moose’s term has expired. Former President George W. Bush nominated Moose for the Peace Board of Directors in 2007.
The Epoch Times reached out for comment to different senators but did not receive a response by press time.