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Surgeon general nominee one step closer

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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) to block the nomination over concerns about Murthy's stance on guns.

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Murthy is a practicing physician and medical instructor who founded Doctors for America, a group that has advocated for the Affordable Care Act.

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 Mason ReidDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein 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 HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinThe Memo: Trump attacks on Harris risk backfiring Ernst challenges Greenfield to six debates in Iowa Senate race Biden unveils disability rights plan: 'Your voices must be heard' 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."