Angry GOP lawmakers Biden fired Social Security chief for damaging agency


Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul refuses to accept his dismissal.

President Joe Biden on Friday dismissed former President Donald Trump’s choice as head of the Social Security Administration, accusing him of damaging the agency. Republicans in Congress are furious, suggesting his ousting will jeopardize Social Security.

Andrew Saul, who was appointed to a six-year term as Social Security Commissioner in 2019, is a wealthy investor and longtime Republican megadonator. Its deputy commissioner, David Black, resigned on Friday at the president’s request; Saul refused to resign or accept his dismissal.

“I consider myself to be the term protected Social Security commissioner,” Saul told the Washington Post on Monday. “I honestly think I’m doing a great job there.”

Republicans in the House and Senate reacted angrily to the cuts.

“Andrew Saul is a dedicated public servant who has been confirmed by a bipartisan qualified majority”, complained Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Monday. “This unprecedented and unwarranted move by Joe Biden puts Social Security at risk.”

“The @WhiteHouse shouldn’t ignore the law and put politics above the people by removing Social Security Commissioner Saul and Deputy Black just to replace them with supporters,” mentionned Indiana Senator Todd Young. “These political games will undermine confidence in government and hamper our continued economic recovery from the pandemic. “

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley called Saul’s ouster “scandalous” and tweeted: “DON’T POLICY SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR”.

“Saul and his team have been admirably focused on service to beneficiaries and have successfully guided the Social Security Administration through the pandemic,” Grassley said in a July 9 statement. “People don’t want their retirement and their benefits to be politicized, they just want an agency that works. We had that under Commissioner Saul.”

Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed Grassley’s views, Tweeter that the deletion constitutes “an unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the Social Security Administration”.

In a joint statement, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Texas Representative Kevin Brady, senior members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, respectively, also claimed that the deletions would harm beneficiaries and politicize the agency.

“It is disappointing that the administration is injecting politics into the agency, given that Commissioner Saul has been confirmed with bipartisan approval, has worked closely with both sides in Congress and has provided benefits and services smoothly during the biggest management challenge the agency has ever faced, “they wrote.” We fear that this politicization of the social security administration is just the start of efforts to increase charges social security and seriously undermines bipartisan efforts to save social security for future retirees. “

The White House issued a statement on Friday explaining the decision:

Since taking office, Commissioner Saul has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, ended the agency’s telework policy which was used by up to 25% of the workforce agency work, failed to repair SSA’s relationship with affected federal employee unions, including in the context of COVID-19 workplace safety planning, reduced procedural protections regular for benefit appeal hearings and other actions contrary to the agency’s mission and the president’s political agenda.

Saul could not immediately be contacted for comment. The Washington Post reported that he plans to continue doing his job – telecommuting from his home in New York City – on Monday.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee subcommittee overseeing Social Security, had urged Biden to remove Saul and Black on February 19:

Saul and Black are unable to realize the Democrats’ vision to protect and extend social security. As agents of the Trump Social Security program, they cut back on benefits that hard-working Americans have earned, attacked Social Security Administration employees, denied beneficiaries due process, and unnecessarily increased examinations. disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. No one has been immune from their path of destruction.

While social security commissioners are appointed for a six-year term, the law expressly grants the president the power to remove them “by virtue of a finding by the president of negligence in duty or wrongdoing in the exercise. of its functions “.

In addition, two recent Supreme Court rulings have determined that the president can fire certain members of the executive without having to justify reasons.

In June 2020, the court ruled that a restriction on the presidential power to remove the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was unconstitutional and that “its director, in light of our decision, must be removed by the president at will “.

Last month, the court issued a ruling allowing Biden to fire the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency without cause.

In a memorandum of July 8, the Justice Department noted the two decisions and concluded: “The president can dismiss the SSA commissioner at will.

In March, 50 Democratic lawmakers urged Biden to remove the current members of the Postal Services Board of Governors, all six of whom were appointed by Trump.

Despite changes to the postal service instituted by Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, whom a federal judge called a “politically motivated attack,” and criticism from the agency’s inspector general that his actions were “having a negative impact on the quality and timeliness of postal service nationwide,” the governors did not fire DeJoy.

Like Saul, DeJoy is a holdover from the Trump era and a major Republican donor.

Despite Saul’s claims that he is still charged, the Social Security Administration website currently lists Kilolo Kijakazi as acting commissioner.

Published with permission from the American Independent Foundation.

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