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Biden taps Martin O’Malley for Social Security commissioner

Former Maryland governor would be first agency head nominated by a Democratic president since 2001

Martin O’Malley was Maryland’s governor from 2007 to 2015 and previously served as mayor of the city of Baltimore.
Martin O’Malley was Maryland’s governor from 2007 to 2015 and previously served as mayor of the city of Baltimore. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Joe Biden nominated former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to be the commissioner of Social Security on Wednesday.

“As Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland, he adopted data and performance-driven technologies to tackle complex challenges facing the communities he served — and I saw the results firsthand when we worked together during my time as Vice President. As Governor, he made government work more effectively across his administration and enhanced the way millions of people accessed critical services,” the president said in a statement before the nomination was sent to the Senate.

The Social Security Administration has been operating without a Senate-confirmed commissioner since the president fired Andrew Saul, a holdover from the administration of former President Donald Trump, in July 2021. The commissioner regularly serves a six-year term.

O’Malley, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, was Maryland’s governor from 2007 to 2015 and previously served as mayor of the city of Baltimore.

“I know Martin to be a dedicated public servant who understands the solemn promise of Social Security and how much it means to our seniors and disability or survivor beneficiaries. Most important for such a large federal agency, Martin also loves data and has a strong track record making government work better based on that data,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., said in a statement. “He’s literally written the book on ‘Smarter Government.’”

Cardin, who is also from Baltimore, is a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Nancy Altman, president of the advocacy group Social Security Works, was also among those endorsing the announced nomination.

“Social Security Works applauds the nomination of Governor O’Malley, a longtime Social Security champion. Like President Biden, O’Malley supports expanding Social Security’s modest benefits, not cutting them. At a time when Social Security is under attack from Republicans in Congress, O’Malley is the fighter that the American people need at SSA’s helm,” Altman said, noting that there has not been a Senate-confirmed commissioner nominated by a Democrat since 2001.