Biden Fires Holdover as Head of Social Security Administration | New policies
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden fired the Social Security commissioner on Friday after the official refused to resign, and Biden accepted the deputy commissioner’s resignation, the White House said.
Biden asked Commissioner Andrew Saul to resign, and his job was terminated after he refused the Democratic president’s request, a White House official said.
Deputy Commissioner David Black has agreed to resign, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
Both officials were put in place under President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Biden has appointed Kilolo Kijakazi interim commissioner while the administration seeks a permanent commissioner and a deputy commissioner.
Kijakazi is currently the Deputy Commissioner for Pension and Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration.
Saul’s dismissal follows a legal opinion from the Justice Department which concluded he could be dismissed, despite a law that says he could only be fired for neglecting his duties or doing wrongdoing.
The opinion – sought at the request of the White House – concluded that a reassessment due to a recent Supreme Court ruling meant Saul could be sacked by the president at will.
Biden’s decision won the immediate backing of the Democratic senator who would be responsible for confirming a successor to Saul. Republican senators accused Biden of politicizing the agency and pointed to Saul’s confirmation with a bipartisan Senate vote in 2019.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Said in a statement that “every president should choose the staff who will best achieve their vision for the country.”
“To realize President Biden’s bold vision of improving and extending social security, he needs those in charge,” Wyden added, pledging to work to confirm a new commissioner “as quickly as possible.”
Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, the top Republican on the finance committee, and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, released a joint statement qualifying Biden’s decision of “disappointing”. Security beneficiaries have the most to lose from President Biden’s partisan decision to impeach Commissioner Andrew Saul. “
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Called the staff movement “an unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the Social Security Administration.”
The Baltimore-headquartered agency pays benefits to about 64 million people, including retirees, children, widows and widowers, according to its website. The agency has a staff of around 60,000 and benefits are funded by a payroll tax paid by employers and employees.
Saul was confirmed by a Senate vote of 77-16 in 2019 for a six-year term that would have expired in January 2025, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa tweeted.
Associated Press writer Mike Balsamo contributed to this report.
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