Former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who was a presidential candidate in 2016, was confirmed by the Senate on Monday to be the next commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA).

O’Malley served as the 61st governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015 and, briefly, ran in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, before dropping out on the day of the Iowa Caucuses due to low support. After being nominated by President Joe Biden, O’Malley was confirmed by the Senate to head the SSA by a vote of 50 yeas to 11 nays on Monday.

“Martin O’Malley has spent the bulk of his career in public service transforming government organizations from bureaucratic morasses into driven, dynamic, and efficient machines to best serve the public,” wrote Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversaw O’Malley’s nomination, in a statement. “I believe Martin O’Malley is the right person for the job at the right time.”

Before becoming governor, O’Malley served as the mayor of Baltimore, which is where the SSA’s headquarters is located. He will oversee an agency that has been the focus of intense scrutiny amidst concerns about the financial cost of Social Security and Medicare benefits, with the programs’ cost expected to grow by $50 trillion over time while its trust fund is expected to deplete by 2034, according to the Heritage Foundation.

“We must acknowledge that Social Security faces a customer service crisis. The truth is, today, the Social Security Administration is serving a 50 percent increase in beneficiary customers with the same levels of staffing they had in 1995,” O’Malley testified at his confirmation hearing. “Today, an American in need of disability benefits will wait 220 days for an initial decision, and perhaps as long as two years for an appeal.”

Arjun Singh on December 18, 2023

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