January 18, 2022

Biden fires Trump-appointed head of Social Security administration

US President Joe Biden has fired President Donald Trumpappointed head of the Social Security Administration on Friday, sparking a potential legal clash over who rightfully holds the position.
Biden called for the resignation of Andrew Saul, the agency’s commissioner, and David Black, a deputy commissioner, Friday morning. Black resigned as requested, but Saul refused and was informed by the government that he had been fired, a government official said. He has vowed to challenge Biden’s move as illegal.
Biden decided to appoint an acting commissioner, Kilolo Kijakazi, while the government is looking for permanent successors to the two jobs. Kijakazi was deputy commissioner for pension and disability policy at the agency.
The resignation was Biden’s latest bid to fire a Trump-appointed director of an independent executive agency. Such bureau heads are appointed to fixed terms and have historically enjoyed a high degree of isolation from political layoffs, but recently that respect has eroded.
When Trump acted to remove the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Supreme Court upheld his authority to do so. In June, Biden fired the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, after a court ruled he had that authority.
Saul did not immediately return a message asking for comment. By Friday evening, the Biden administration had removed his biography from the commissioner’s page on the Social Security Administration’s website. The developments were previously reported by The Washington Post.
Democrats have tried to oust Saul from his position since the early days of Biden’s administration.
sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, chair of the Social Security Subcommittee on the Senate Finance Committee, called for Saul to resign in February. Brown said Saul had attempted to enact regulations designed to reduce access to Social Security benefits for disability — including refusing benefits to an estimated 100,000 potential recipients who are not fluent in English.
“Social Security is the bedrock of our middle class that Americans deserve and rely on, and they need a Social Security Commissioner who will deliver on that promise to seniors, survivors and people with disabilities now and for decades to come,” Brown said Friday. . “Instead, Andrew Saul tried to systematically dismantle Social Security as we know it inside out.
The chairman of the finance committee, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also welcomed the move.
“Every president should choose the personnel who will best carry out his vision for the country,” Wyden said. “To fulfill President Biden’s bold vision of improving and expanding Social Security, he needs the leadership of his people. I will be working closely with the President to confirm a new commissioner to lead this critical body as soon as possible.”
A White House The official said Friday that Saul had undermined Social Security disability benefits, ended a telecommuting policy at the agency and alienated federal unions over occupational safety planning during the pandemic.
Three top Democrats in the Chamber in March Ways and Means Committee called for Saul’s impeachment, accusing him of “aggressive anti-union activities” and pursuing benefits that would harm vulnerable Americans.
Congressional Democrats also accused Saul of delaying stimulus payments for some Americans by failing to send necessary files to the United States. Ministry of Finance. Saul’s office said it received no funding to do that work.
Republicans seized the fire, portraying it as a political decision.
“Social Security beneficiaries have the most to lose from Biden’s partisan decision to remove Commissioner Andrew Saul from the leadership of the Social Security Administration,” Texas Representative Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho , the top Republican on the finance committee, said in a statement.
“It’s disappointing that the government is injecting politics into the agency as Commissioner Saul was confirmed with bipartisan approval, working closely with both parties in Congress, and providing smooth benefits and service during the agency’s biggest management challenge ever,” she said. said.
Biden campaigned to increase Social Security benefits for many Americans and to support the program’s finances, funded by increased payroll taxes for employees earning $400,000 or more.
But his $4 trillion agenda has so far ruled out those efforts, which were also barred from his first formal budget request as president. Government officials have privately suggested that Biden will hold off on making Social Security changes later in his tenure, once he completes work on infrastructure and other efforts to remake the U.S. economy with a greater role for government. .
Brady and Crapo alluded to that proposal in their response to the resignation. “We are concerned that this politicization of the Social Security administration is just the beginning of efforts to raise payroll taxes,” they said, “and seriously undermines the two-pronged efforts to preserve Social Security for future retirees.”


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