Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal MORE (D-Ill.) sparred about the qualifications of Vivek MurthyVivek Hallegere MurthyCan Scott Gottlieb reverse the opioid crisis? Blame a ‘loneliness epidemic’ for risks to nation’s well-being Surgeon general: ‘We are going to run out of funds’ for Zika 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.