Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy
Reuters/Pool

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Vivek Murthy to be President Biden’s surgeon general, handing the administration one of its top public health officials amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Senators voted 57-43 to confirm Murthy, a bump from the 51 votes he got for the same position in 2014. Murthy served as surgeon general under the Obama administration but was fired by former President Trump in 2017.

GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska) joined Democrats in supporting his nomination on Tuesday.

“.@vivek_murthy is a highly experienced, crisis-tested leader and an excellent choice to return as Surgeon General. Glad he was confirmed today—and I’m looking forward to working with him to address this pandemic and the underlying health inequities it has made way worse,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate’s Health Committee, tweeted Tuesday night.

But getting the support of every Democratic senator wasn’t always guaranteed. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters last month that he hadn’t made a decision, but ultimately ending up voting for him Tuesday.

“Murthy has confirmed his commitment to remaining non-partisan as Surgeon General and reaffirmed his belief that the vast majority of gun-owning Americans are responsible and follow the law. For these reasons, I believe Dr. Murthy is qualified to be Surgeon General and I look forward to working with him to address the numerous issues facing our nation,” Manchin said in a statement. 

Murthy previously called gun violence a health threat to the United States, which had won him opposition from the NRA. Manchin voted against Murthy’s nomination in 2014, saying that questioned if Murthy could “separate his political beliefs from his public health views.” 

Trump’s firing of Murthy in 2017 surprised employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and sparked accusations from Democrats that Trump was trying to politicize the role. 

Murthy advised Biden for several months during the campaign on the coronavirus pandemic and vowed to focus on the mental health impact if he was confirmed. 

“We know a lot of what we need to do, we just aren’t doing it. We have for example, programs that we could be investing in schools to help provide mental health counseling to kids to detect symptoms of mental illness early. We can train more mental health providers,” Murthy said.

Tags Bill Cassidy Dan Sullivan Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Manchin Lisa Murkowski Mitt Romney Patty Murray Rob Portman Roger Marshall Surgeon General of the United States Susan Collins Vivek Murthy

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