Biden removes head of Trump-appointed Social Security Agency

Biden removes head of Trump-appointed Social Security Agency

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden has fired the Social Security commissioner after the official refused to resign, and Biden accepted the deputy commissioner’s resignation, the White House said.
A White House official said Biden asked Commissioner Andrew Saul to resign and his employment was terminated Friday after the Democratic president declined a request.
Deputy Commissioner David Black agreed to resign, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
Both officers were placed under President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Biden named Kilo Kizakazi as acting commissioner, while the administration is looking for a permanent commissioner and deputy commissioner.
Kizakazi is currently the Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration.
Saul’s expulsion came after a Justice Department legal opinion found he could be fired, despite a statute that says he can only be fired for neglect of his duties or malice.
The opinion – researched at the request of the White House – concluded that a recent Supreme Court decision on reparations meant that Saul could be fired by the president at will.
Biden’s move received immediate support from the Democratic senator, who will be in charge of confirming Saul’s successor. Republican lawmakers accused Biden of politicizing the agency and pointed to Saul’s confirmation by a bipartisan Senate vote in 2019.
Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement that “every president should choose personnel who can best fulfill his or her vision for the country.”
“To fulfill President Biden’s bold vision of reforming and expanding Social Security, he needs to be in charge of his people,” Wyden said, “as soon as possible” of working to confirm a new commissioner. Promised.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D.N.J., who several months ago started calling for the removal of Saul and Black, celebrated Friday’s firing.
“Social Security is in deep trouble,” Pascrell said.
Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, the top Republican on the finance committee, and Texas Representative Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a joint statement calling Biden’s decision “disappointing.” The pair claimed that “Social Security beneficiaries stand most to lose from President Biden’s partisan decision to remove Commissioner Andrew Saul.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. called the personnel “unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the Social Security Administration”.
The agency, headquartered in Baltimore, pays benefits funded by taxes on wages paid by employers and employees to nearly 64 million people, including retirees, children, widows and widowers, according to its website. The agency has a staff of about 60,000 employees.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted that Saul was confirmed in 2019 by a 77-16 Senate vote to a six-year term that will expire in January 2025.
The labor union representing Social Security workers also welcomed the firing.
Ralph de Julis, spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees (SSA) General Committee and chairman of Council 220, said employee morale and the agency’s operations had suffered under the leadership of Saul and Black.
“President Biden made the right call to send these Trump appointees packing,” de Julis said.

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