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Senate Confirms Obama’s Surgeon General Pick Despite Gun Control Views

Politics Tribune News Service

Senate Confirms Obama’s Surgeon General Pick Despite Gun Control Views

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By Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s controversial choice for surgeon general Monday, a victory for the administration after GOP infighting gave Democrats the upper hand in the final stretch of the lame-duck Congress.

The 51-43 vote followed a drama-filled weekend session in which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) forced senators to cancel plans and file into work as he tried to use a government funding bill as leverage to stop the president’s immigration policy.

But the strategy backfired: Not only did Congress clear the $1.1 trillion spending bill without restrictions on immigration policy, but Democrats used the rare Saturday session to speed up the confirmation process for nearly two dozen nominations that would have otherwise languished.

Vivek Murthy, the Harvard- and Yale-educated internist who is Obama’s choice for surgeon general, faced stiff opposition from the National Rifle Association over his support for stricter gun control laws.

But his confirmation, coming almost two years to the day after the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, allowed Democrats to wrap up their majority control of the Senate with a victory.

The Senate this week expects to clear more than 20 other nominees that had been bogged down in a political morass. The list includes some lifetime judicial appointments, bolstering Obama’s stamp on the courts.

The NRA on Monday reiterated its opposition to Murthy, whom it criticized for supporting a federal ban on sales of semiautomatic firearms.

“The NRA’s position hasn’t changed,” said spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.

Supporters have defended Murthy, saying that his views are not extreme and that most Americans support tougher gun control laws. They also argued that the nation needs a surgeon general at the forefront of the nation’s public health team, noting the recent Ebola crisis.

“We need a surgeon general right now,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a leading advocate of gun restrictions. “Let’s agree to agree that Dr. Murthy is right — that gun violence is a problem that this country should be addressing, no matter what your view on how we get there. That’s something we all should be able to unite around.”

The Senate on Monday also was set to advance Obama’s choice of Sarah Saldana to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, over the objections of conservative Republicans protesting the president’s plan to defer deportations for up to 5 million immigrants here illegally.

Saldana and another nominee, Antony Blinken, tapped as deputy secretary of state, are expected to be confirmed Tuesday.

The current session of Congress has just days remaining; the House has already finished its work and left for the holidays.

Republicans are using procedural tools to slow down the confirmation process, forcing the Senate to stay at work.

As he opened the chamber Monday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) warned that he would keep senators in session “until we finish our work” — even if that means another Saturday in Washington.

“I know we all have things to do,” Reid said, noting that after he sold his longtime home in Searchlight, Nev., earlier this year, he hasn’t yet spent a night in the new house he bought near Las Vegas in May. “I want to go home.”

The Senate still hopes to give final passage later this week to a package of specialty tax breaks, including for the film industry, Puerto Rican rum producers and teachers who buy their own school supplies. The measure has already cleared the House.

Congress, however, remains divided over an extension of the terrorism risk insurance program, which will expire Dec. 31 if no agreement is reached.

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

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8 Comments

  1. kenndeb December 16, 2014

    Liberals should outlawed. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    Reply
    1. JPHALL December 17, 2014

      NO, YOU ARE THE MENTAL DISORDER. YOU HAVE PROVEN THAT POINT SO WELL! And by the way, the capitalization was intentional!

      Reply
      1. kenndeb December 17, 2014

        Must be the drugs you are given.

        Reply
        1. JPHALL December 17, 2014

          Unlike yourself I have no drugs to take. Stop projecting!
          Subject: Re: New comment posted on Senate Confirms Obama’ s Surgeon General Pick Despite Gun Control Views

          Reply
          1. kenndeb December 18, 2014

            What do you think is in that kool ade they serve you at those liberal rallies you attend? Must be interesting stuff to make so many so stupid and totally ignorant.

            Reply
          2. JPHALL December 18, 2014

            What liberal rallies? You are the one who has drunk deeply from the kool aid. That is why you call Obama an emperor or tyrant. You do not even know what those words imply? Someone else told you and like the naive, lost child you are, you repeat it. So sad! Subject: Re: New comment posted on Senate Confirms Obama’ s Surgeon General Pick Despite Gun Control Views

            Reply
          3. kenndeb December 18, 2014

            I don’t think I implied anything. don’t have a President. We have a tyrant who thinks he is above our laws and disregards our Constitution. I have used the term Emperor for him long before it became popular as it is now. Gee, I’m a trendsetter. I refer to him as Emperor as he seems to think that he is royalty, and he and his family do act as if they were royalty. And there is nothing Presidential about him. He doesn’t even act as if he were an American. Of course, that is most likely because he grew up in Indonesia, and also likely not an American citizen. Emperor just seems to fir so well. Caesar might be more descriptive though. I know many liberals refer to him as godlike, and the new messiah, but I just think he is a communist fraud. Now what was it that I implied?

            Reply
          4. JPHALL December 18, 2014

            That’s just it! It is not popular except with right wing goobers like yourself. The vast majority of Americans just laugh at you and your outlandish statements. You merely repeat what they say on False news network or Breitbart News. No facts just opinions. Outside of America’s enemies and your fringe group of facists, nobody accepts your positions. You are so sad! I hope you enjoy your fear filled life. Subject: Re: New comment posted on Senate Confirms Obama’ s Surgeon General Pick Despite Gun Control Views

            Reply

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