Paul threatens to block surgeon general pick

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) threatened this week to block the Obama administration's surgeon general nominee, saying the White House decided to “politicize” the position by choosing Vivek Hallegere Murthy.

“We are asking [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid to withdraw his nomination,” Paul said on Fox News’ “Hannity."

Paul said “every other word that comes out of [Murthy's] mouth or through his tweets is something condemning gun owners, condemning the NRA." 

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Obama nominated Murthy in November, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is slated to vote on the nomination on Wednesday. 

Paul sits on the panel and threatened to filibuster the nomination on the Senate floor if the committee advances it.

“We'll do what we can to filibuster it, but you realize Harry Reid destroyed the filibuster,” Paul said Tuesday evening. “So we can object; we can vote against him; we can tell the public that we don't think it's a good idea to politicize the position of surgeon general. But ultimately, he will have the power to roll over us because right now, the Senate operates under the iron-fisted rule of one man, Harry Reid.”

In a letter to Reid on Tuesday, Paul said he has “serious concerns about Dr. Murthy's ability to impartially serve as "the Nation's Doctor."

Murthy is the co-founder of Doctors for America, which grew out of the campaign organization Doctors for Obama. Paul says his experience in political advocacy should disqualify him, as should his record of advocating stricter gun control laws and promoting ObamaCare. 

“Accordingly, I will object to any unanimous consent agreement or the waiver of any rule with respect to the nomination of Dr. Murthy,” the letter states. 

If confirmed, Murthy would succeed Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, who has served as acting surgeon general since July. 

Paul did not attend Murthy's confirmation hearing on Feb. 4.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) praised Murthy in advance of the vote on Wednesday.

"Senator Harkin believes that the Surgeon General is in a strong position to promote the health of the American people, and that is why he is so pleased that President Obama has nominated a clinician and educator of Dr. Murthy’s caliber. Dr. Murthy has dedicated his career to public health and clinical care, is a gifted collaborator and communicator, has earned the respect of people on both sides of the aisle, and has an obvious passion for public service—qualities that were all on ample display at his confirmation hearing," Harkin spokeswoman Allison Preiss said in a statement to The Hill.

— This report was updated at 12:03 p.m.

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