President Biden fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul yesterday in a typical Friday night news dump hoping no one would notice. Saul was one of the last remaining federal appointees by former President Donald Trump still in a position of power in the federal government. The White House said he was fired after he refused a request for his resignation.
Deputy Social Security Commissioner David Black was also asked to resign and he went along with it but Saul said not so fast. Saul is refusing to leave and considers himself legally appointed and term protected. “I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” Saul said before adding he would report to work Monday anyway.
“Since taking office, Commissioner Saul has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, terminated the agency’s telework policy that was utilized by up to 25 percent of the agency’s workforce, not repaired SSA’s relationships with relevant Federal employee unions including in the context of COVID-19 workplace safety planning, reduced due process protections for benefits appeals hearings, and taken other actions that run contrary to the mission of the agency and the President’s policy agenda,” a White House official said in a statement.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, slammed Biden’s decision.
“Their terms didn’t expire until 2025, and there was no reasonable justification for these removals. President Biden is overtly politicizing the SSA,” Grassley said in a statement.
“People don’t want their retirement and benefits politicized, they just want an agency that works. We had that under Commissioner Saul.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said:
“Every president should choose the personnel that will best carry out their vision for the country.
“To fulfill President Biden’s bold vision for improving and expanding Social Security, he needs his people in charge.
“I will work closely with the president to confirm a new commissioner as swiftly as possible to lead this critical agency.”
Saul, however, told The Post in an interview on Friday that he questions the legality of the White House decision to fire him. His term was supposed to last until January 2025. The White House told the paper that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision conferred the power to replace him.
“I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” Saul, 74, told The Post, describing the firing as a “Friday Night Massacre” — a reference to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” which included a string of firings by the president during the Watergate scandal.
He told the paper he plans to return to work on Monday.
Saul was the first confirmed commissioner to head the agency since 2013. The commissioners in the post since then had “acting” in front of their title. Prior to his confirmation, Saul served as an executive for a woman’s apparel company and is well-known a Republican donor.
He also was a trustee at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank that has called for cuts to Social Security benefits to streamline the agency, which pays out more than $1 trillion a year to about 64 million Americans.
Social Security Commissioner Saul has bipartisan backing / I’m hrg Pres Biden may oust him which wld b outrageous Saul was confirmed by Senate in 2019 w a vote of 77 to 16 to 6yr term that doesn’t expire til January 19, 2025/ DONT POLITICIZE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) July 9, 2021