Congressional Democrats buck White House agenda, join with Republicans in series of votes

The House of Representatives has had a busy week, holding several key votes on issues ranging from inflation to environmental investing practices.
Joe Biden

Congressional Democrats have joined their Republican colleagues in voting against the White House in a recent string of votes, highlighting the limits of President Joe Biden's influence in the legislature.

The House of Representatives has had a busy week, holding several key votes on issues ranging from inflation to environmental investing practices. Previously, the chamber addressed changes to Washington, D.C.'s criminal code. In those instances, Congress advanced Republican-led legislation with meaningful Democratic support despite opposition from the president.

House votes to block changes to Washington, D.C.'s criminal code, forcing Biden to drop veto threats

Last month, the House adopted legislation to overturn changes to Washington, D.C.'s criminal code that many viewed as soft on crime. Indeed, the reforms were too extreme for D.C. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser, who vetoed the bill. The City Council, however, overrode her and implemented reductions to the maximum criminal penalties for offenses in the District. 

Thirty-one Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the measure to annul the District's criminal code changes in a 250-173 vote. In a second vote, 42 Democrats joined Republicans in blocking the District's law allowing noncitizens to vote. That measure passed 260-173.

Although Biden previously vowed to veto the legislation should it reach his desk, he blinked this week, telling Senate Democrats that he would not veto the measure should it clear the upper chamber. With Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) on medical leave and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) supporting the measure, it appears set to pass the Senate as it does not need to clear a 60-vote filibuster threshold. The measure also seems likely to gain support from other Democratic senators.

It remains unclear whether the president intends to veto the noncitizen voting measure.

Lawmakers vote to quash Biden administration rule permitting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing

Both the House and Senate this week advanced legislation to terminate a Department of Labor rule permitting asset managers to consider ESG factors when making investment decisions.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and John Tester (Mont.) joined Republicans in voting 50-46 to advance the measure out of the upper chamber after it had passed the House, setting up a prospective Biden veto of bipartisan legislation. The House vote saw only one Democrat join Republicans in a 216-204 vote.

The Department of Labor rule clarified that asset managers may weigh ESG factors when managing investor funds, a practice many believe conflicts with a firm's fiduciary duty to its clients. Asset manager Vanguard made headlines last December by bucking its ESG pledges over such concerns.

In a recent interview, Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley said the practice of ESG investing "does not have any advantage over broad-based investing" and stressed that an investing firm was ill-suited to assess the ESG policies of thousands of companies in which it might invest.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, have suggested that ESG investing proponent BlackRock could face federal investigations over whether its practices conflict with the company's obligations to investors.

The Labor Department originally implemented the rule to reverse guidelines from the Trump administration aimed at restricting ESG investing.

Dozens of Democrats back a plan requiring Biden to publish inflation impact assessments before enacting executive orders

A total of 59 House Democrats on Wednesday voted with Republicans in support of New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik's REIN IN Inflation Act, which would require Biden to publish inflationary impact assessments of his executive orders prior to enacting them.

The measure passed 272-148, with four Republicans opposing it. Biden has faced strong voter disapproval for his handling of the nation's economy amid high inflation, which currently stands at 6.4%.

Stefanik characterized the vote as a rebuke of the Biden administration's spending policies.

"As every hardworking family is forced to pay more for almost everything due to Bidenflation, I am proud to pass my bill, the REIN IN Inflation Act, to hold the Biden Administration accountable for their reckless spending causing prices to skyrocket," she said Wednesday.

The measure faces an uncertain feature in the Senate, and the president is very likely to veto it should it reach his desk.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.