Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Ill.) sparred about the qualifications of Vivek MurthyVivek Hallegere MurthyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Jerome Adams The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Harman says Russia is trying to exploit America; Mylan's Heather Bresch says US should make strategic reserve in medicines; Trump unveils leaders of 'Warp Speed' The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Moniz says U.S. needs energy jobs coalition and Manchin says Congress is pushing Wall Street solutions that don't work for Main Street; Burr to step aside MORE to be surgeon general of the Public Health Service.

Later Monday, the Senate is expected to vote on his confirmation.


Barrasso, who is a physician, said he is concerned Murthy will use the position to advance his personal ideology. Murthy has advocated for more gun control, saying it’s a public health issue. He also formed a group called Doctors for Obama during the presidential campaign.

“Gun violence is a public health issue — no apology necessary,” Durbin said on the Senate floor Monday.

Barrasso said Murthy doesn’t have enough experience because he only completed his medical education in 2006. He said Obama’s nomination of Murthy was “embarrassing.”

Durbin said what was embarrassing was that the position has been vacant for so long. Murthy’s nomination has been sitting on the executive calendar since February and the position has been vacant since July 2013.

“We ought to have a surgeon general in the United States of America,” Durbin said. “He is a leading voice in public health.”

Durbin pointed out that while Murthy’s nomination has been pending, the country has had to deal with an Ebola outbreak — the surgeon general would oversee the U.S. response to the epidemic.