The "Open Executive Session" of the Senate Finance Committee to consider the nomination of Andrew Lamont Eanes to become Deputy Commissioner of Social Security, as well as some other nominations, which had been scheduled for today, has been postponed. No new date has been announced.
I have been saying that if confirmed that Eanes will become Acting Commissioner of Social Security replacing the current Acting Commissioner, Carolyn Colvin. That's exactly right as things stand now. If Eanes is confirmed, Colvin is out of a job and Eanes as Deputy Commissioner automatically becomes Acting Commissioner. However, it appears that there is a plan to change that. The plan is to create some other position at Social Security, I assume in the Senior Executive Service (SES), for Colvin. The President could then alter the order of succession to make the person holding that position the Acting Commissioner. There are no formalities to this. All that's needed is a simple memorandum from the President. While the Social Security Act provides that the Deputy Commissioner becomes the Acting Commissioner, it also provides that the President can designate someone else.
I find this weird. The job of Deputy Commissioner at Social Security has only one defined duty -- to become Acting Commissioner if the Commissioner's job is vacant -- and the President would be taking away that duty. What's the point of having a Deputy Commissioner if you take away the only duty of the office? I don't mean to suggest that Eanes won't have anything to do if confirmed. I'm sure he'll be given something to do but if he can't be Acting Commissioner he really seems like a fifth wheel. It also seems weird to me because a person holding a statutory position where he had to be confirmed by the Senate will be reporting to a person holding an SES position which doesn't require Senate confirmation. I wonder how often that happens in the federal government.
Whose idea was it to confirm Eanes but to retain Colvin as Acting Commissioner? Why would you do this? Why bother nominating or confirming Eanes if you have such a low regard for him that you want to make sure he has no power, at least for now?