The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to finally confirm nominee Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy as the country's new surgeon general. It's been more than a year since President Barack Obama chose Murthy to be "the nation's doctor," and Sen. majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was pushing to approve him before Congress adjourns for the year and resumes Republican-run, the New York Times reported.
The Senate is expected to meet in a 10 a.m. executive session to consider Murthy, potential defense nuclear facilities safety board member Daniel Santos and assistant secretary of state nominee Frank Rose. There's a roll call vote planned for 5:30 p.m., according to the floor schedule. Murthy, 37, only needs 51 senators' support under the changed filibuster rules.
Over the past year, Murthy's candidacy for surgeon general has been contentious. GOP representatives say he's too political and anti-gun. Among other public stances on the issue, Murthy tweeted in 2012: "Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of the NRA. Guns are a health care issues. #debatehealth."
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) stopped Murthy from being confirmed in February over his co-founding of Doctors for America, a group associated with an Obama campaign group. Murthy has connected gun violence and health, Politico reported, prompting the National Rifle Association to call his confirmation "a prescription for disaster for America's gun owners."
"Historically, the Surgeon General of the United States has been a position with the purpose of educating Americans so that they may lead healthier lives, rather than advancing a political agenda," Paul wrote in February. "Dr. Murthy has disqualified himself from being Surgeon General because of his intent to use that position to launch an attack on Americans' right to own a firearm under the guise of a public health and safety campaign."
On the flipside, 105 organizations have gathered to back Murthy, including the American Public Health Association, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and the American College of Physicians. "Dr. Murthy is a well-qualified, forward thinking and innovative leader with a strong commitment to public health," they wrote in a letter last month.