The House and Senate are in recess until Jan. 9, but here is how the two New York senators voted on three confirmations during the legislative week ending Dec. 22.

See the nonpartisan VoteFacts.com for more information on top congressional issues and individual voting records. Click here for previous votes.

Confirmation of Martin O’Malley, Commissioner of Social Security

Voting 50 for and eleven against, the Senate on Dec. 18 confirmed Martin J. O’Malley, a former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore, as commissioner of the Social Security Administration for a term ending Jan. 19, 2025. O’Malley, 60, takes charge of a 61,000-employee workforce that administers retirement, disability and survivors-insurance programs paying over $1.4 trillion annually in benefits to more than 66 million beneficiaries. The average Social Security retirement benefit is $1,847. In addition, the agency administers the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides cash assistance to approximately 7.5 million needy individuals who have less than $1,913 in monthly income and under $2,000 in the bank, and who are 65 or older, blind or unable to work because of a serious medical condition. Thresholds are higher for couples. While Social Security is financed by payroll taxes, SSI payments are made from the Treasury.

Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said Social Security “is confronting a consumer service crisis … serving 50 percent more customers and beneficiaries with the same staffing it had in 1995. This has resulted in unacceptable service delays, including 37-minute average hold times on the 800 number and as much as a two-year wait for disability determinations and appeals…. Gov. Martin O’Malley is the strong operational leader the Social Security Administration needs right now.”

Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said: “Throughout his nomination process… O’Malley has made it clear that his number one priority… will be improving customer service. We asked him repeatedly how he views this position and he gave the same answer each time: This position is not about politics; it is about service…. [He] would focus on modernization and improving transparency….”

No senator spoke against the nominee. A yes vote was to confirm O’Malley.

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted yes
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) voted yes

Confirmation of Christopher Fonzone, Assistant Attorney General

Voting 50 for and 19 against, the Senate on Dec. 19 confirmed the nomination of Christopher C. Fonzone, 48, as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. Known as “the president’s law firm,” the office advises the White House on legal issues throughout the executive branch, having final say on disputes among and ruling on the constitutionality of pending legislation and issues. Fonzone was general counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence between 2021-2023, and before that, he served in the department’s Civil Rights Division and as special counsel in the Department of Defense, among other positions. He was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

There was no debate on the nomination. A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted yes
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) voted yes

Confirmation of Elizabeth Richard, State Department Counterterrorism Chief

Voting 49 for and 15 against, the Senate on Dec. 19 confirmed the nomination of Elizabeth H. Richard as the Department of State’s counterterrorism coordinator. A member of the Foreign Service for 38 years, Richard was U.S. ambassador to Lebanon from 2016-2020, and before that she was deputy ambassador for war crimes issues; deputy chief of mission in Yemen; administrator of the Office of Counter-Narcotics, Law Enforcement, and Rule of Law in the U.S. embassy in Kabul; and deputy director of the department’s Office of Asia, Africa, and Europe in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, among other postings.

There was no debate on the nomination. A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted yes
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) voted yes

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Thomas is the editor of VoteFacts.com, a nonprofit news service, and has been accredited since 1973 by the U.S. House and Senate daily press galleries. VoteFacts.com is a nonpartisan, fact-based site whose mission is to help civic-minded individuals track the most consequential and newsworthy issues debated in the U.S. House and Senate. The Highlands Current subscribes to the VoteFacts.com service.

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