President Biden fired the Social Security Administration commissioner, a holdover from the Trump administration, after refusing to resign on Friday.
Andrew Saul told the Washington Post, which first reported on his dismissal, that he planned to be at work as usual on Monday and described his dismissal as a “Friday night massacre,” a reference to infamous “Saturday night massacre” during the Watergate scandal. .
“It was the first time that I or my deputy knew this was going to happen,” Saul told the newspaper. “It was a lightning bolt that nobody expected. And right now, that leaves the agency in complete turmoil.
Saul was appointed by Trump to head the independent agency for a six-year term ending in January 2025. He was confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan vote in June 2019. He insisted on Friday. that “I consider myself the Commissioner of Social Security.”
Saul’s dismissal follows a Justice Department legal opinion that concluded he can be dismissed at will due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, despite a law that says he cannot be fired than for neglecting homework or doing wrong.
In a statement, a White House official said Saul “has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, ended the agency’s telecommuting policy which was used by up to 25 to percent of the agency’s workforce, failed to repair SSA’s relationship with affected federal employee unions, including context of COVID-19 workplace safety planning, reduced protections due process for benefit appeal hearings and taking other actions that run counter to the agency’s mission and the president’s political agenda. ”
The Associated Press reported that Deputy Commissioner David Black, another Trump holdover, had agreed to resign. Biden has appointed Kilolo Kijakazi interim commissioner while the administration seeks a permanent commissioner and a deputy commissioner. Kijakazi is currently the SSA Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy.
Republicans in Congress have accused Biden of politicizing the agency, which pays billions of dollars a year to more than 60 million Social Security recipients, including the elderly and people with disabilities.
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Kevin Brady (R-Texas), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a joint statement calling Biden’s decision ” disappointing “and asserting that” Social Security recipients 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.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Whose committee would consider any candidate to succeed Saul, said in a statement that “each 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.”
With post wires