WASHINGTON (AP) – 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.
Biden asked Commissioner Andrew Saul to resign, and his appointment was terminated Friday after he denied the Democratic president’s request, a White House official said.
Deputy Commissioner David Black agreed to resign, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
Both officials had been put in place under President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Biden appointed Kilolo Kijakazi as acting commissioner, while the administration is looking for a permanent commissioner and deputy commissioner.
Kijakazi is currently the Deputy Commissioner for Pensions and Disability Policy in the Social Security Administration.
The statement – examined at the request of the White House – concluded that a revaluation due to a recent Supreme Court ruling meant Saul could be fired by the president as needed.
The bite’s move received immediate support from the Democratic senator who would be responsible for confirming a successor to Saul. Republican lawmakers accused Biden of politicizing the agency, pointing to Saul’s confirmation in a 2019 Senate referendum.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Said in a statement that “every president should choose the staff who can best carry out their vision for the country.
“To meet President Biden’s bold vision of improving and expanding social security, he needs his staff,” Wyden added, promising to work to reaffirm a new commissioner “as soon as possible.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell, DN.J., who several months ago began demanding that Saul and Black be ousted, celebrated their Friday shootings.
“Social security is in deep trouble,” Pascrell said.
Senator 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, issued a joint statement calling Biden’s decision “disappointing.” The couple claimed that “social security recipients are losing the most from President Biden’s biased decision to remove 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-based agency pays benefits funded by a tax on wages paid by employers and workers to about 64 million people, including retirees, children, widows and widowers, according to its website. The agency has a staff of about 60,000 employees.
Saul was confirmed by a Senate vote of 77-16 in 2019 for a period of six years that would have expired in January 2025, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa tweeted.
The labor union, which represents social security workers, also welcomed the layoffs.
Ralph de Juliis, spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees SSA General Committee and Council 220 President, said employee morale and agency operations had suffered under Saul and Blacks leadership.
“President Biden rightly called to send these Trump-appointed packages,” de Juliis said.
Associated Press author Mike Balsamo contributed to this report.