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Republicans warn bank CEOs to tread lightly on social, cultural issues


By Pete Schroeder, Lananh Nguyen and Saeed Azhar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The heads of the nation’s largest banks confronted pointed criticism from Republicans Thursday, as they urged corporations to chorus from weighing in on social and cultural issues.

Senator Pat Toomey, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, urged banks to cease “embracing a liberal ESG agenda that harms America,” as chief executives appeared earlier than Congress for an oversight listening to. Toomey, who continuously backs business requires lighter laws, argued corporations are out of bounds after they weigh in on non-banking issues like weapons and abortion.

“I can’t help but observe that when banks do weigh-in on highly charged social and political issues, they seem to always come down on the liberal side,” he mentioned in his opening assertion.

Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, praised the banks as “not perfect, but good,” earlier than echoing the decision to tread lightly.

“You will never win the uber-woke sweepstakes,” he mentioned.

The elevated scrutiny underscores the challenges the nation’s largest lenders more and more face as they struggle to steadiness industrial pursuits with stress from policymakers, activists and traders to take stances on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

The line-up included CEOs of the 4 largest U.S. banks: JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Jamie Dimon, Wells Fargo’s Charles Scharf, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan and Citigroup’s Jane Fraser. They had been joined by the CEOs of the nation’s largest regional lenders, US Bancorp, PNC Financial and Truist.

Democrats continued their essential stance in direction of huge banks, arguing they’re having fun with giant earnings whereas mistreating shoppers and staff. None of the CEOs in attendance affirmatively agreed with Chairman Sherrod Brown’s request that they continue to be impartial in any worker unionization efforts.

However, the CEOs mentioned they had been beginning to elevate curiosity funds to depositors within the wake of the Federal Reserve’s fee improve this week, a development they anticipated would proceed.

CEOs had been in Washington for a second day of oversight hearings. On Wednesday, executives had been pressed by lawmakers to take a harder stance on doing enterprise with China amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan’s sovereignty and China’s human rights report.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder, Lananh Nguyen and Saeed AzharEnhancing by Nick Zieminski)

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