Biden fires Trump-appointed Social Safety Administration chief
President Joe Biden sacked Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul on Friday after turning down a resignation, a White House official told NBC News.
Saul, who was appointed head of the agency by former President Donald Trump, has been informed of the immediate termination of his employment, according to the official.
The Washington Post was the first to report Saul’s dismissal.
“Since taking office, Commissioner Saul has undermined and politicized social security disability benefits, ended the agency’s teleworking policy, which was used by up to 25 percent of the agency’s workforce, and the SSA’s relationships with relevant federal employee unions, including those related to COVID, not repaired. 19 Occupational safety planning, reduced protections from due process in performance appeals hearings and other actions taken that run counter to the agency’s mandate and the president’s political agenda, “the White House official said.
Biden also called for the resignation of David Black, the agency’s deputy commissioner, who had resigned, the official said. Biden has appointed Kilolo Kijakazi, Deputy Commissioner of the Agency for Aging and Disability Policy, as Deputy Commissioner.
Both the commissioner and the deputy commissioner are now being sought, a White House official said.
However, Saul told the Post in an interview on Friday that he was questioning the legality of the White House’s decision to fire him. His term of office should last until January 2025. The White House told the newspaper that a recent ruling by the US Supreme Court has given him the power to replace him.
“I consider myself to be the termed Social Security Commissioner,” he told the Post, describing the layoff as a “Friday Night Massacre” – a reference to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” which was a series of layoffs by President during Watergate Scandals.
He told the newspaper he planned to go back to work on Monday.
Republican lawmakers were quick to criticize Biden for the move, claiming the government was injecting politics into a typically apolitical agency. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted the move “outrageous” on Friday, noting that the commissioner was appointed for a six-year term and confirmed with a bipartisan vote in 2019.
Social Security Commissioner Saul has bipartisan support / I’m hrg Pres Biden could oust him, which is very outrageous. Saul was confirmed by the Senate in 2019 with a 77 to 16 to 6 year vote that doesn’t expire until Jan 19, 2025 / DO NOT POLITIZE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN
– ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) July 9, 2021
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell also joined the government in a tweet on Friday.
“This removal would be an unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the social security administration,” McConnell said.