Young, Scott join Republican colleagues in questioning firing of Social Security commissioner

U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), Tim Scott (R-SC) and several GOP colleagues earlier this week posed several questions related to a recent change in leadership at the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

The lawmakers seek clarifications on actions taken by President Joe Biden, who on July 9 fired SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul and designated Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi as acting commissioner.

Sens. Young and Scott both serve on the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Young also is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, while Sen. Scott is the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. In addition to two other senators, the letter also was signed by U.S. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Kevin Brady (R-TX), who asked Dodaro for “needed clarity,” particularly “during these times of pandemic-induced uncertainty of Social Security service delivery to beneficiaries.”

“Clarity over the authorities and the term of an Acting Commissioner will be useful for Congress and Social Security beneficiaries to receive from GAO,” they wrote.

Specifically, the lawmakers asked Dodaro to answer numerous questions, including whether previous positions held by Kijakazi are in compliance with the Vacancies Act; the defined functions and duties for the SSA commissioner; the delegable and non-delegable duties of the commissioner; as well as who has the authority to delegate duties upon the SSA commissioner’s departure, among others.

Additionally, the lawmakers pointed out that President Biden removed the SSA commissioner in violation of conditions set forward in the Social Security Act and to date has not provided the public with any findings of neglect of duty or malfeasance in office, which the act requires. 

“The only public announcement of the firing has been quotes appearing in the press from an unnamed White House source who put forward baseless allegations, expression of possible policy disagreement, and innuendo,” according to their letter. “We remain concerned that [the] administration of Social Security benefits that touch the lives of constituents from across the political spectrum now faces discontinuity, heightened uncertainty, and politicization.”

“Retirees, disabled American workers, and deserving low-income Americans from across the political spectrum deserve better,” they wrote.