Activists push for surgeon general confirmation

Healthcare activists are holding meetings on Capitol Hill to push for the confirmation of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, a process that has been stalled since gun rights advocates opposed his nomination.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are pushing Senate Democrats to hold a vote before the end of the legislative session this month, and they're receiving a groundswell of support from the caucus rank and file.

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Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces White House eyes September action plan for gun proposals Trump phoned Democratic senator to talk gun control MORE (D) joined members of American College of Physicians and other medical groups Tuesday to tout Murthy's qualifications and articulate the need for a permanent surgeon general.

"Without a physician in the surgeon general’s office to be able to dispel truth from mythology when it comes to Ebola or any number of public health threats that are confronting the country, we’re exposed to rhetoric out-pacing reality," Murphy said.

"You just have to look at the chaos across the country that was wrought by the Ebola threat, that did not match — in reality — what it was portrayed to be on TV to understand why we need a surgeon general."

A number factors have pushed the surgeon general debate into headlines this month.

Activists believe that the passing of the midterm elections and the prospect of GOP Senate control in January will push outgoing Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason Reid2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Panel: How Biden's gaffes could cost him against Trump MORE (D-Nev.) to bring up Murthy's confirmation in the next three weeks.

A practicing physician and instructor at Harvard Medical School, Murthy was nominated in November 2013 to replace acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak.

Past statements in support of gun control soon landed Murthy in hot water with conservatives and the National Rifle Association, which charged that he would use the surgeon general post to advocate for restrictions on gun rights.

Murthy denies he would do this. "My concerns with regard to issues like gun violence have to do with my experience as a physician," he said while testifying before senators in February.