Biden selects Martin O’Malley for Social Security commissioner

President Joe Biden has nominated former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as the next commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

The agency is responsible for distributing Social Security to more than 70 million beneficiaries and commands a $1 trillion budget, according to Reuters, which reported O’Malley’s selection Wednesday. It has been run by acting commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi since Biden fired Andrew Saul, former President Donald Trump’s appointee, in 2021.

O’Malley was a Baltimore city council member and the city’s mayor before serving an eight-year term as governor of Maryland that ended in 2015. He ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2016, but lost to Hillary Clinton.

“Governor O’Malley is a lifelong public servant who has spent his career making government more accessible and transparent, while keeping the American people at the heart of his work,” Biden said in a statement, reported by Reuters. “I know that Governor O’Malley will continue to be a strong partner that works tirelessly to protect Social Security for generations to come.”

The administration has faced complaints about long wait times at Social Security offices and a backlog of customer service requests.  

In September, Democrat lawmakers wrote a letter to Biden urging him to nominate a full-time commissioner to address “longstanding labor-management problems” they claim were worsened under Trump.

“Under prior leadership, SSA was among the most hostile agencies in the federal government in the way it chose to implement the since-repealed anti-union executive orders from 2018,” said the letter signed by 16 senators. “Employee satisfaction is falling at SSA, and SSA employees report feelings of exhaustion at among the highest rates of any federal agency.”

His appointment needs to be confirmed the Senate, which could be difficult thanks to partisan divides, according to Reuters. Some Republicans have proposed cuts to Social Security to address government deficits, while Biden, a Democrat, has accused the party of trying to undermine the agency.  

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the main Social Security trust fund will be depleted within a decade. Congress has been unable to pass a long-term solution to finance the program.

[More: 2024 COLA estimate increases despite slowing inflation]

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