President Obama's nominee for surgeon general is one step closer to confirmation after the Senate health committee approved him for the job on Thursday.
The Senate will likely confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy in the coming weeks despite a move by Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulDestructive 'fat cat' tax law a complete flop. It's time to repeal it. Trump must take action in Macedonia to fix damage done by Obama and Clinton We can put America first by preventing public health disasters MORE (R-Ky.) to block the nomination over concerns about Murthy's stance on guns.
This affiliation and Murthy's previous comments supporting gun control have made his nomination controversial with Republican senators.
Paul, placing a hold on the nomination this week, said he had "serious concerns" about Murthy's ability to be politically impartial as surgeon general.
"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,” Paul wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (D-Nev.) on Wednesday.
The National Rifle Association reportedly urged senators not to support Murthy's nomination for similar reasons in a letter Wednesday night.
Nonetheless, Democrats say they have the votes and that Paul's hold will matter little given the rule change last year year that allows a simple majority vote to overcome Senate filibusters of most nominees.
In a statement Thursday, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa) praised Murthy as suited to the post of surgeon general.
"The surgeon general is uniquely positioned to develop and implement strategies to promote health and wellness and to drive disease prevention strategies in our nation," Harkin said.
"Dr. Murthy’s extraordinary medical and public health accomplishments show that he is well-qualified to continue that mission."