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Pentagon health nominee withdraws after comments on gun control

Pentagon health nominee withdraws after comments on gun control
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Cohen: I pray Michelle Obama's words will unite country again Michelle Obama: ‘I stopped even trying to smile’ during Trump’s inauguration Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico: report MORE’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s health chief has withdrawn from consideration after a Senate panel stalled his confirmation over comments on gun control.

“I am sorry not to be able to assist Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whom I deeply respect, in building the best and most efficient military health-care system possible,” Dean Winslow wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post announcing his withdrawal.

“I have the credentials to help, including 35 years of experience in the Air Force (including four deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan after 9/11), in military and academic medicine, and in private practice, public hospitals, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries and public health. But unfortunately, I do not possess one credential the committee wanted to see: I do not support the unrestricted ownership of semiautomatic assault weapons by civilians.”

Winslow, who was nominated to be assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month — days after a mass shooting in Texas in which the shooter was able to buy a gun despite being convicted in the military justice system of domestic violence.

Winslow was asked about shooting during the hearing, to which he replied: “But I also would like to, and I may get in trouble with other members of the committee, just say how insane it is that, in the United States of America, a civilian can go out and buy a semi-automatic assault rifle like an AR-15, which apparently was the weapon that was used.”

Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTime to start planning for the 2020 presidential transition Meghan McCain posts Veterans Day tribute to father Longtime McCain aide blasts ‘despicable’ GOP claim that Dems are trying to steal Arizona Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.) interjected, telling Winslow, "I don't think that's in your area of responsibility or expertise."

McCain also warned Winslow about a written answer on abortion. Winslow wrote that "therapeutic abortion services should be provided by the military in appropriately staffed facilities.”

Therapeutic abortions refer to situations in which the mother’s life is in danger. Federal law does not allow military medical facilities or Defense Department dollars to be used to provide abortions except in certain circumstances.

“You may want to clean up this abortion issue, OK? ... Or you're going to have trouble getting it through the Senate,” McCain cautioned.

Two days later, the committee advanced a slate of nominees — but not Winslow. At the time, McCain told reporters his fate would depend on how he answered follow-up questions about his testimony on guns and abortion.

“That’s the way we do business,” McCain said of not yet moving forward Winslow’s nomination. “We have people before the committee, if there’s additional questions we honor other members’ right to ask additional questions and get answers.”

In his op-ed, Winslow said he has no regrets about his testimony.

“Having semiautomatic weapons makes no sense,” he said. “It is a public-health issue that, as a doctor, I felt compelled to bring to the Senate’s attention. As a citizen, I am saddened that our government has become so dominated by pro-gun lobbyists that an appointment such as mine — which has no responsibility for gun control — can be sidelined by a single sentence of informed, personal opinion. And that really is insane.”