The Smoking Ebola Gun: Rand Paul’s Senate Hold Is Why The Nation Has No Surgeon General


The Republican obstruction strategy of “stall and block” is coming back to haunt Republicans in many ways, not the least of which is the country’s realization that we have no Surgeon General as we face the Ebola crisis.

But of course, politicians don’t like to take responsibility for their tactics, so the Republicans’ new talking point to get around taking responsibility for their obstruction of President Obama, his entire administration and indeed, our entire federal government, is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) could call for a vote any time to confirm the nomination for the Surgeon General.

But that’s not true.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) put a hold on the November 2013 nomination after the NRA objected to the nominee. Krystal Ball and Anne Thompson reported for MSNBC:

Murthy’s nomination has been held up by Republicans and a few red state Democrats due to this surprisingly controversial stance: He believes that guns can impact your health. Well, to be fair, this conservative coalition is not troubled by his stance, so much as they are fearful of the NRA, which decided to try to scuttle Murthy’s confirmation. The NRA wrote a strongly worded letter, Rand Paul put a hold on the nomination, and Red State Democrats begged Harry Reid to not force them to vote. It’s funny that the strongly worded letters of ordinary citizens don’t seem to have quite the same effect.

A senator can use a procedural move called a hold to prevent a motion from reaching a vote. The hold can be a secret hold or done publicly on the floor. So it doesn’t matter that red state Democrats are afraid of the NRA (although the NRA’s hold over our supposed representatives is sickening). A hold stops a vote from coming to the floor anyway, so this one is on Rand Paul.

Unbeknownst to most of the public, the Republicans have been using the hold/secret hold to obstruct a record number of Obama’s nominees. See, it’s not just jobs bills/legislation that they obstruct. It’s a whole shock and awe strategy implemented by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is on record admitting that obstructing everything Obama did would be the GOP plan for his entire presidency.

In May of 2010, I observed:

There’s a disturbing trend in the Senate under President Obama, wherein Republicans are abusing secret holds in order to stall and block over 96 nominees of the President’s. These nominees range from federal court nominees to executive agencies, like the TSA -an agency whose current lack of leadership puts our lives at risk every day, as evidenced by the Christmas bomber and the no-fly list failure with the Times Square bomber.

Dozens of these nominees have sailed through committee hearings only to be brought to halt on the Senate floor through the use of what are called Secret Holds, which allow any senator to block any nominee at any time for any reason — anonymously. A new rule meant to lift the secrecy has had little effect.

At that time, Senator Clair McCaskill (D-MO) called the Republicans out on their abuse of procedural rules, saying Republicans were using a “stall and block” tactic. “This is called stall and block, stall and block, stall and block, stall and block — and fine, but own it!” McCaskill said. “If you’re gonna stall and block, let’s see who you are.”

She warned them that they would own it, and yet here they are, blaming Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, as if he’s just refusing to call a vote because he doesn’t want his own party’s administration to function. Back then, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) called the unprecedented obstruction, “… an attack on this administration to do its constitutional duty.”

But isn’t that just perfect? After all, Republicans are planning to run on Ebola now that Obamacare is such a success, and they couldn’t very well run on fear if they weren’t obstructing the President’s administration. This way they can blame Obama for the results of their obstruction, and no one is the wiser. Vote Republican, because otherwise they’ll terrorize the country and muck up government so much you’ll just give in out of exhaustion. Which seems like a plausible response until you remember how they handle government (see Katrina).

52 Replies to “The Smoking Ebola Gun: Rand Paul’s Senate Hold Is Why The Nation Has No Surgeon General”

  1. Rand Paul is a little weasel!

    He doesn’t even try to hide his weaselness, he proudly wears it on his head.

  2. Randbo is an idiot
    Rand Paul warns cocktail party attendees to be on the alert for Ebola

    “[The Obama administration] has downplayed how transmissible it is,” Paul said in an interview with CNN on Thursday morning. “They say it’s the exchange of bodily of fluids. Which makes people think, ‘Oh, it’s like AIDS. It’s very difficult to catch.'”
    “If someone has Ebola at a cocktail party they’re contagious and you can catch it from them,” Paul continued. “[The administration] should be honest about that.”

    Honest? Then why don’t you tell that you’re the NRA BITCH and it was you that place a hold on the Surgeon General

  3. Watching politicians run around taking credit, or laying blame is slightly less entertaining than watching the people who believe them.

  4. Liebertarians seem to think problems and oppression is always about the-other-guy. The assumption appears to be that if it’s their own behavior, if it’s something that they want, well then that’s about being free and anything opposed to that is about oppression. None of which is NECESSARILY, that is rationally and empirically, so.

    Case in point, how an ultimately oppressive factor, the ebola microbe, achieved ascendance at least in significant part because Liebertarians assert what they want the rest of us to think is freedom.

    My mother had a phrase for this “freedom”. She’s say we’re free to “cut your own nose off to spite someone else’s face.”

  5. Christ on a cross! Lord, please can you expedite the days and nights? I want these RWNJ’S out on their behinds! They’re literally killing Americans with their obstructionism! I hate ’em!

  6. Maxie, they are not even worthy of the brain cells it takes to hate. But I do wish that little twerp would get bitch slapped on a daily basis.

  7. Rand Paul should be held personally liable for any and all Americans that catch Ebola. Any and ALL of his personal property, cash and assets should be frozen ASAP.
    All families of anyone taken ill should seek legal help to prosecute Paul seeking damages.

  8. Sometimes I can’t find the words to do justice to the disgust I feel towards repubs. They are destroying our country and it seems okay with their voters. Why, I’ll never know.

  9. For a future view of the USA being rule by all of the TPGOP watch the movie “THE HUNGER GAMES.” Pay close attention to the politics.

  10. Isn’t it the Senate that confirms presidential nominations!?!

    “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.”

    Talk to your guy Harry Reid about the SG!

  11. So Obama only has one option for SG? Why did he take his ball and go home and not appoint someone else. Oh I know so you guys can blame the Republicans. No more nothing less!

  12. They taking out the idiot Hillbilly clown show on news circuit just in time for the wknd. Here’s some facts:
    One more fact; Why is Rick Perry in hiding? It was the cause of Private-for-profit Hosp. deregulation, that hosp. personnel was so unprepared.
    Due to TX law Fed. just can’t walk in an take control w/o the Gov. invitation.
    Perry didn’t turn full control over to CDC, NIH they work alongside w/state & hosp. officials. Which assured the fed. they were following CDC recommendations.

  13. Are you saying Obama has someone else and I didn’t know it? If not, then Then I would suggest you keep your mouth shut. You do know why the NRA opposed the nomination don’t you?

  14. Look here boy yes I do know why the NRA bribed the cowards in the senate and before you start spouting your Reich wing bullshit you shut the fuck up. This is not redstate you are in my house and we give you the privilege to show people what a idiot you are

  15. Harry Reid changed the rules so they don’t even need 60 votes anymore. The real reason this is held up is several democrats are up for reelection, so it can’t pass this year or they’ll lose control of the Senate and can’t compete in red states. (Not that it is easy to do that to begin with.)


    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid states the hold will not cause a meaningful delay.

    And Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson, clarifies the hold can be cleared with 51 votes in a separate vote… that’s the only delay.

    Two votes requiring 51 each instead of one… and that’s the problem? They can’t do a 2nd vote?

    Or they don’t have 51?

    Which seems more likely again?

    Or maybe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t understand the rules like you guys do? Yeah, that’s probably it.

  17. The Part I don’t understand?

    Harry Reid, Nov 2013 changes the rules so the hold can be cleared with 51 votes.

    You’re claiming it still takes 60 votes.

    Reid’s spokesman clarifies it’s 51.

    My confusion is why you STILL claim it’s

    Now that you understand my confusion, explain why Reid and his staff say it’s 51 when you’re certain it’s 60.

    Per MSNBC Rand Paul need 50 other senators to block the vote… if it takes 60 wouldn’t he need 40?

    Or is my math wrong too?

  18. Honestly…what is it going to take to end this nonsense? It seems to me something drastic must happen to end the stranglehold conservatives have on this country but I have no idea what that could be. How are they able to create so many issues for this country and simultaneously shift the blame and avoid the consequences of their actions?

  19. Saw a bumper sticker today. It read: “Stop the insanity! Vote Republican!” Couldn’t believe it, but there it was. Madness, utter madness.

  20. I have no idea Tim.

    I mean we nuked the filibuster in Nov. 2013, so we could end a hold with 51 votes; but those evil Republicans with their 45 votes hold a majority.

    The 53 Democrats can’t possibly get 51 votes; so we need the Republicans to stop blocking stuff.

    If only 53 were greater than 51, but that’s just madness.

    Horrible the way they blame this on the Dems, when they hold the majority in the Senate… 45 > 51 > 53… right?

    Oh wait, I’m counting backward again. Why can’t the Dems get 51 votes?
    Why do we blame the Repubs for this?
    Why is it everyone here seems incapable of counting?

  21. No matter who Obama nominated it would be blocked by a secret hold. That was the agreement the Repubs made with ole Mitch when Obama was reelected – block everything.

    Even if there were enough votes to override, someone would just put another hold. I know from over 10 years of personal experience.
    Reid reduced the votes for the filibuster. Don’t know if that applies to holds.

  22. 45 > 51 > 53… right?

    No…I’ll help…although I was told there would be no math.

    ONE senator can now block the advance and confirmation of all federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments.

    The answer is:

    1 > 99

    Do I need /// ?

  23. The proof is that republicans are more of a danger to this country than Ebola ever will be. It is republicans that must be stamped out and stopped at our borders from ever regaining a foothold again, the gangrene of the GOP needs to be stopped and its stench of their hate and lies cleansed from the air of our country for good, republicans are already here, screw Ebola, we need to eradicate the GOP.

  24. This whole story is based on a lie. The premise that we don’t have a Surgeon General is false. We have an Acting Surgeon General Quoting the Washington Post: “There is an acting surgeon general in place, Boris Lushniak, but he has kept a low profile during the Ebola crisis, deferring to CDC Director Tom Frieden to speak publicly to educate and reassure the people.”

    Check it out at the official page

  25. …ah, but we do have an Acting Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H.

    The fact that Admiral Lushniak does not agree with the Obama Administrations handling of the ebola crisis is exactly why Obama and his friends in the Media are ignoring Admiral Lushniak …and ‘acting’ as if he doesn’t even exist.

  26. And how do you clear a hold Charlie? You have a vote.

    After Nov 2013, the # of votes needed to clear hold is… FIFTY-ONE… the 51 I kept saying.

    So if you can get 51 votes, you clear the hold, then vote on approval (also 51 votes).

    If you can NOT get 51 votes to clear the hold… how do you think you have 51 votes to approve?

    That’s the reason fro the section in Maddow’s article:

    “Unless Paul can convince 50 of his colleagues to join him in his latest odd endeavor, Murthy has an excellent chance of becoming the next Surgeon General, whether the former self-accredited ophthalmologist from Kentucky likes it or not.”

    He need 51 votes to sustain the hold… you need 51 votes to clear it.

    I’m not sure why with 53 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus with it (much less the now claimed 99) you think you can’t get 51 votes.

  27. Ted Cruz: GOP Blocked Obama’s Surgeon General Because Guns Are ‘Not Connected To Public Health’
    During an interview on CNN, host Candy Crowley pointed out that the surgeon general should “voice” of public health during the Ebola crisis, but Republicans in the Senate had blocked the appointment of Dr. Vivek Murthy.

    “Of course we should have a surgeon general in place,” Cruz told Crowley. “And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist.”

    “And a doctor,” Crowley pointed out. “That’s a health professional.”

    “He’s a doctor,” Cruz admitted. “Where he’s made his name is as a crusader against Second Amendment rights, and as a consequence, he didn’t have the votes among Republicans or Democrats.”

  28. It’s because Randbo is banking on the ignorance of the American electorate who don’t know or don’t want to know how their government actually governs.

    Too many people – even on the Left – believe that the president, not Congress, is the most powerful branch of our three-branch government and they’ll happily blame President Obama for all of Congress’ obstructionism and anti-Americanism.

    Sad, isn’t it?

  29. The “hold” and the “filibuster” are two separate Senate rules.

    The “hold” only needs ONE Senator and it stops any item from even coming to the floor since it takes “unanimous consent” to bring anything to the floor for debate.

    The filibuster is where 40+ Senators can object to even debating what has been brought to the floor.

    Rand Paul had put a “hold” on President Obama’s candidate for Surgeon General, and he did it all in his midget lonesome.

    For a more informed understanding of the difference between the Hold (that Rand Paul used to stop President Obama’s SG candidate from even coming to the floor) and the filibuster, follow this link:

  30. It read: “Stop the insanity! Vote Republican!”

    Stop the insanity of democracy! Vote Republican for a theocracy!” is what it should read because that’s exactly what these numbskulls want. A theocratic dictatorship a la Muslim countries like Yemen and Iran.

  31. Reid reduced the votes for the filibuster. Don’t know if that applies to holds.

    “Holds” are a different Senate rule altogether. It only takes ONE Senator (in this case, Rand Paul) to place a hold on any nominee or item to even be brought to the floor for debate where Republicans have been issuing filibusters.

    In order to bring any item to the floor for debate, it takes unanimous consent. If only one Senator objects and places a hold on that item, it stops it from coming to the floor, successfully filibustering it ad infinitum.

  32. My god, Angela. No wonder you vote Republican. Your myopic view of this situation tells me that your narrow little mind can’t grasp the larger picture that it was Rand Paul – a REPUBLICAN – who called for a hold on Murthy’s nomination for SG. A REPUBLICAN. Harry Reid is a Democrat so he is blameless in this.

    Now, because of this Republican obstructionism, Democrats have to circumvent the “hold” and issue a separate and additional vote to schedule confirmation. But make NO mistake: the lack of a Surgeon General today is because of REPUBLICAN OBSTRUCTIONISM, because people like YOU vote Republican.

    Take your own advice that you so readily hurl at Democrats, and take personal responsibility for your and your Party’s failure in this growing ebola crisis – and OWN IT.

  33. You’re only giving half a picture of the issue here.

    First and foremost … take responsibility that REPUBLICANS have allowed this “hold” of Vivek Murthy through Rand Paul because they’ve decided to obstruct everything this president does.

    Still with me? Good.

    Second, it takes unanimous consent by all Senators to move to put an item to the floor, but it only takes ONE Senator to place a hold, which is what Republican Sen. Rand Paul did.

    Now, had you read your own linked article at the Boston paper, you would have read the part where, in order to circumvent Rand Paul’s “hold”, the Senate is forced to take an additional vote to schedule confirmation. That’s where that 51 votes come in.

    But all of this twisting and turning wouldn’t have been necessary had Republicans actually wanted to govern instead of playing politics and being sore-loser crybabies.

    And you, ertdfg, are as much to blame as the Republicans. OWN IT.

  34. So you’ll admit the hold could be cleared with 51 votes, which you don’t have.

    But it is ALL Rand Paul’s fault we don’t have a confirmed Surgeon General because you have 51 votes to confirm, just not 51 votes to clear the hold?

    I guess that’s possible.

    Can you list the Senators who really want this Surgeon General; bu won’t vote to break Rand Paul’;s hold to get this Surgeon General?

    Or can we admit that after the filibuster was nuked, a hold doesn’t mean anything and this “smoking gun” is nothing of the sort and we wouldn’t have a Surgeon General even without this hold?

    Rand Paul’s delay is a vote; which could be done in 10 minutes… and requires the same votes as the confirmation would require.

    Which means this article of the “smoking gun” and it’s “all Rand Paul’s fault” is baloney… right?

    It’s now “Red State Dems” and “there aren’t 51 votes to confirm”… right?

    Or are we going to swing back to the lie as soon as possible?

  35. The Republicans don’t seem to understand what a secret hold is. The voting numbers don’t matter because nothing can come to the floor for a vote while the secret hold is on. Every senator has the power to file a hold. Paul has placed a hold on the nomination. This means that there can’t be a vote until the hold is lifted by Sen. Paul. The end. If Republicans thought there weren’t enough votes to confirm, they would have encouraged Paul to lift the hold.

    The truth is that Republicans are worried that nominee would be confirmed, so Paul is keeping his hold in place until after the election or later if Democrats keep the Senate.

  36. There can be no vote on this until the hold is lifted. Stop using others information in place of your lack of knowledge

  37. > “nothing can come to the floor for a vote while the secret hold is on.”
    Secret holds were eliminated by the Senate in a 92-4 vote in January 2011. The passage of the Wyden/Grassley/McCaskill Secret Holds Resolution, codified the change and applies to future sessions of Congress.×4713055

    > “Paul has placed a hold on the nomination. This means that there can’t be a vote until the hold is lifted by Sen. Paul.”
    The Senate majority leader sets the Senate’s agenda and has the final say regarding the implementation and the length of a given hold.

    Harry could schedule a vote and all Dems need to override the hold is 51 votes.
    But he won’t.

  38. Oh, the HOLD is the problem? Ok.
    Lets sort it out, what is a hold?

    “hold – An informal practice by which a senator informs his or her floor leader that he or she does not wish a particular bill or other measure to reach the floor for consideration. The majority leader need not follow the senator’s wishes, but is on notice that the opposing senator may filibuster any motion to proceed to consider the measure.”

    A hold is a threat to filibuster, that the Senate Majority leader can ignore on his whim.

    And what does the Senate Majority leader think of this hold?

    “Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson, said [] Wednesday that revised Senate procedures, which [] allow filibusters of nominees to be overcome by a simple majority vote”

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