President Obama got a big win over the NRA today as his nominee to be Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, was confirmed by Senate, 51-43.
The NRA had stalled Murthy’s nomination for months because they claimed that he was an anti-gun activist, but as part of the deal to get the government funding bill passed, Republicans lifted their hold on the nomination, which passed 51-43.
Earlier this year, The Nation discussed the real reason why the NRA opposed Murthy’s nomination, “With public health professionals engaging more forcefully on the gun issue, the NRA has a pressing interest in muting their calls for stronger policy. Really, the campaign against Murthy is the continuation of a longstanding effort to make discussion of gun violence taboo. For years the NRA has worked to bury information about gun violence and its public health implications. The NRA has campaigned successfully to ban registries that collect data on guns used in crimes, and in 1996 the group fought for and won legislation that froze federal funding for research on gun violence. Although Obama lifted the restriction last year in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, there’s still very little money—federal and private—for gun research and not enough data, said David Hemenway, an expert on injury at the Harvard School of Public Health.”
The NRA doesn’t want a Surgeon General who will use his platform to talk about gun violence, much less encourage research into the causes and solutions to the problem.
After the Senate vote, President Obama said in a statement, “I applaud the Senate for confirming Vivek Murthy to be our country’s next Surgeon General. 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. Vivek will also help us build on the progress we’ve made combating Ebola, both in our country and at its source. Combined with the crucial support for fighting Ebola included in the bill to fund our government next year, Vivek’s confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home.”
The passage of the government funding bill was not a happy day for many Democrats, but one of the upsides of Republicans being so eager to get home for Christmas is that they gave away the farm when it came to getting the Senate schedule cleared. President Obama has two dozen more posts filled because Republicans didn’t want to do any more work this year.
This president has not been afraid to challenge the NRA, and his persistence is one of the reasons why Harry Reid was able to seize the opportunity to get a confirmation vote on a nominee that the NRA never wanted to see confirmed. It takes time, patience, and persistence, but the NRA can be defeated.
The nation now has a Surgeon General who is willing to speak out, and this is going to be one Christmas defeat that will come back to haunt the NRA over the next two years.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association