More pressure for surgeon general confirmation

Public health professionals are making a last-ditch effort this week to pressure the Senate to confirm Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy before lawmakers leave for the holidays.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) issued a strongly worded statement Monday calling out the National Rifle Association (NRA) for its opposition to Murthy's nomination.

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"[Murthy] has undergone a full public vetting and weathered any criticisms," said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin.

"The few concerns that have surfaced during this period have shown no merit. As I said previously, competence not age should be the primary qualification for this position. And one concern raised by the National Rifle Association runs counter to mainstream, science-based medical opinion. His nomination deserves our full support."

Permanently filling the surgeon general position is a priority for the APHA, whose founders campaigned for the office to be created in the 1870s.

Murthy, a practicing physician and instructor at Harvard Medical School, has called gun violence a public health issue and expressed support for gun control measures.

While he has vowed not to use the surgeon general position to push those views, the NRA says his support for gun control disqualifies him for the job. 

Activists are expecting a vote in the middle of this week as the Senate wraps up its business.

"We are heading for a cloture vote on Monday, with the actual vote on Wednesday or Thursday,” Emily Tisch Sussman, campaign director for the Center for American Progress’s lobbying arm, told The Hill last week."

—Sarah Ferris contributed.