Appointee Watch: Former TSP Chairman Nominated to Lead Social Security

A former TSP board chairman is Trump's nominee to head SSA. A former TSP board chairman is Trump's nominee to head SSA. Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com

President Trump has tapped a veteran of federal employee retirement programs to lead the nation’s retirement safety net.

Trump announced Thursday that he will nominate Andrew Saul to be commissioner of the Social Security Administration, a post that carries a six-year term. Saul previously was the chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, the agency that administers the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program, the Thrift Savings Plan.

A George W. Bush appointee, he served on the TSP board from 2002 until 2011. During his tenure, the agency tightened rules for the TSP loan program, introduced the lifecycle (L) funds that shift participants to a less risky portfolio as they near retirement, and blocked congressional efforts to force the TSP to divest from companies that do business in Iran or Sudan.

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Since leaving government, Saul became a partner with investment firm Saul Partners LP, and he is active in a number of nonprofits in New York.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate voted 53-45 to confirm Andrew Wheeler to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler previously was an adviser to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and he was a lobbyist for energy companies.

Wheeler’s confirmation is of particular interest as his new boss, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, continues to weather a storm of controversies surrounding his tenure at the agency. Pruitt has been criticized for his use of first-class air travel, a $50-per-night rental agreement with an energy lobbyist for a condo on Capitol Hill, as well as accusations that he retaliated against staffers who objected to his actions.

On Thursday, five Democrats penned a letter to Pruitt outlining allegations of “unethical and potentially illegal” behavior made by former deputy chief of staff for operations Mike Chmielewski, who gave his account of working for Pruitt to congressional investigators this week.

If Pruitt were to be ousted from his post, Wheeler would now take the reins at EPA.

According to the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post, which have been tracking more than 600 key administration jobs that require Senate action, 298 Trump appointees have been confirmed to their posts. An additional 143 people have either been named or formally nominated, while 215 key positions remain vacant.

In recent days, the White House has announced its intent to nominate the following people to agency posts:

Homeland Security: Dr. Duane Caneva, chief medical officer. Caneva specializes in emergency medicine, and most recently served as director of medical preparedness policy for the National Security Council. He is a retired Navy officer and has held posts in the White House and the Homeland Security and State departments.

Agency for International Development: Bonnie Glick, deputy administrator. Glick is deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Aging and a former Foreign Service officer. During her tenure at the State Department, she served at U.S. missions to the United Nations, Ethiopia and Nicaragua. After leaving the federal government, she worked at IBM, where she managed the corporation’s accounts with USAID and the State Department.

Labor: John Pallasch, assistant secretary for employment and training. Pallasch most recently was executive director at the Kentucky Department of Labor’s Office of Employment and Training, which administered employment services and unemployment insurance programs. He previously was the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary for mine safety and health.

National Transportation Safety Board: Jennifer Homendy, member. Homendy is the Democratic staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

Social Security Administration: David Fabian Black, deputy commissioner. Black is the White House’s senior adviser embedded at SSA. He was general counsel for the agency from 2007 until 2015, before which he was deputy assistant secretary of education for civil rights.

Transportation: Heidi King, administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. King is currently deputy administrator for NHTSA. She was chief economist for the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 2011 until 2013, and was a regulatory policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

Treasury: Justin Muzinich, deputy secretary. Muzinich is currently counselor to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, where he advises him on domestic and international policy initiatives. Before joining the agency, he was president of investment firm Muzinich & Co., and taught classes at Columbia Unviersity’s business school.

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