President Biden on Friday fired the man President Donald J. Trump made head of social security administration, sparking a legal showdown about who is rightfully in office.
Mr Biden on Friday morning called for the resignation of Andrew Saul, Social Security Commissioner, and David Black as Deputy Commissioner. Mr. Black resigned as requested, but Mr. Saul refused to leave his position and was informed of his dismissal by the administration. He has vowed to oppose Mr. Biden’s move as illegal.
Mr Biden decided to appoint an acting commissioner, Kilolo Kijakazi, while the administration looks for permanent replacements for the two posts. Ms. Kijakazi is currently the agency’s deputy representative for age and disability policy.
The developments were first reported by the Washington Post.
The sacking was Mr Biden’s latest move in sacking a Trump-appointed director of an independent executive agency. In June, the president fired the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, after the Supreme Court ruled the president had power to remove the agency’s head.
Democrats have tried to oust Mr. Saul from his position since the early days of Mr Biden’s administration. Those demands grew on the $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package passed by the Democrats in March that included direct payments of $ 1,400 to individuals. Lawmakers have said that Mr Saul helped delay payments to retirees by failing to submit the necessary files to the Internal Revenue Service.
Mr Saul’s agency said it had not received any funding for this work.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy subcommittee, called for Mr Saul’s resignation in February, saying Mr Saul had tried to legislate on access to social disability benefits Intended to limit security – including denying services to an estimated 100,000 potential recipients who are not fluent in English.
“Social security is the bedrock of our middle class that Americans count on and count on, and they need a Social Security Commissioner who will keep that promise to seniors, survivors and people with disabilities now and for decades to come,” Brown said on Friday. “Instead, Andrew Saul tried to systematically dismantle social security as we know it from within.”
A White House official, who spoke anonymously for not having the authority to speak publicly about the layoff, said the government believed Mr Saul was undermining Social Security disability benefits, terminating an agency’s teleworking policy, and overriding federal employee unions on work safety planning alienated amid the pandemic.
Mr Saul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Republicans took up the sacking and presented it as a political decision.
“Social Security Beneficiaries have the most to lose in President Biden’s partisan decision to remove Commissioner Andrew Saul from the leadership of the Social Security Administration,” said Texas Representative Kevin Brady, Republican chief on the Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho top Republican on the finance committee.
“It is disappointing that the government is bringing politics to the agency as Commissioner Saul has been sustained with bilateral consent, has worked closely with both parties in Congress, and has smooth performance and services during the biggest management challenge the agency has ever faced has provided. ”