On Monday, the Senate voted and confirmed Vivek Murthy as America's new surgeon general. The vote was 51-43, ending the 17 month vacancy of “top doctor” in the nation.
Last November, the Senate reduced the number of votes needed to confirm executive branch nominees from 60 votes to 51.
"Dr. Vivek Murthy is an MD and an MBA," NPR reported in March. "He practices and teaches at Brigham and Women's Hospital and teaches at Harvard Medical School. He co-founded a clinical trials company, an HIV education organization and Doctors for America, formerly known as Doctors for Obama. And he isn't even 40 yet."
The White House released a statement addressing his confirmation.
“As America’s Doctor, Vivek will hit the ground running to make sure every American has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe. He’ll bring his lifetime of experience promoting public health to bear on priorities ranging from stopping new diseases to helping our kids grow up healthy and strong.”
President Obama nominated Murthy for surgeon general in November of 2013. Since, Republicans and the NRA have voiced their disapproval of Murthy because of his political history.
Rand Paul has led the conservative opposition who placed a hold on Murthy's confirmation in February.
“I have serious concerns about Dr. Murthy’s ability to impartially serve as ‘the Nation’s Doctor,’” Paul, a Republican, wrote in a letter to Reid. “The majority of Dr. Murthy’s non-clinical experience is in political advocacy.”
The non-clinical experience Paul is referring to is Murthy's political support for Obama and gun control.
“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 under the guise of a public health and safety campaign,” Paul wrote.
Murthy defended himself by explaining his role in Doctors for Obama.
“I recognize that some of the work that I’ve done in Doctors for America, where we supported the ACA, can be perceived as partisan,” Murthy said in his only mention of the politics of the group. “I think it was unfortunate — and I think all of us believe this way — it was unfortunate that the discussion about health care became very partisan and it became polarized. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t have been that way."
Despite opposition, Politico reports Murthy has the support of both the American Public Health Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Democrats have rallied behind Murthy's focus on reducing the nation's obesity rate.