The Senate today approved President Obama's nomination of Vivek Murthy to serve as US surgeon general, despite opposition from Republicans and some Democrats over his support for gun control. Murthy, 37, a physician at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School, won confirmation on a vote of 51-43. He's a co-founder of Doctors for America, a group that has pushed for affordable health care and supports Obamacare. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., says most of Murthy's career has been spent as an activist focused on gun control and other political issues, rather than on treating patients.
"Americans don't want a surgeon general who might use this position of trust to promote his own personal campaign against the Second Amendment of the Constitution," Barrasso says. Supporters say Murthy is well-qualified and noted his promise not to use the position as a bully pulpit for gun control. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., says Murthy has been "pilloried and excoriated" by the NRA and its supporters for his backing of stricter gun laws, including an assault weapons ban, and past statements that gun violence is a public health issue. Murthy's nomination was endorsed by more than 100 health organizations. Today's confirmation vote came more than a year after Obama had nominated Murthy.