The National Rifle Association revived its attacks on Vivek Murthy, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be U.S. surgeon general, ahead of an expected Senate confirmation vote on Monday.
“The NRA’s position hasn’t changed. America’s next surgeon general should not be a political operative whose professional inexperience has been a source of bipartisan concern,” Andrew Arulanandan, a top NRA spokesman, told TPM.
Arulanandan said that the NRA would score the vote and thereby downgrade its rankings of lawmakers who support Murthy.
The gun lobby’s opposition had stalled the nomination for months. It spooked red state Democrats earlier this year by painting Murthy as an anti-gun advocate for having argued that gun violence is a public health issue, and for having supported gun safety policies like mandatory background checks and a ban on assault weapons.
Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue. #debatehealth
— Vivek Murthy (@vivek_murthy) October 17, 2012
In March 2014, a Senate Democratic leadership aide admitted to TPM that NRA opposition had “put some moderate Democrats in a tough spot” and that the party was “probably short 8-10 votes” of the 51 needed to ensure his confirmation. But with the election over, his odds of getting the votes have improved in the lame duck session before Republicans take the majority.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote on the nomination on Monday afternoon and, if it succeeds, immediately move to a final vote to confirm him.
Murthy received his degree from Yale School of Medicine, and has since worked as a physician-instructor at Harvard Medical School and co-founded the nonprofit group VISIONS Worldwide, which works to fight HIV/AIDS. He worked to help elect Obama president in 2008. He’s endorsed by more than 100 medical and public health groups.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke out in favor of the nomination on Monday morning, describing Murthy as highly qualified to become the nation’s chief public health spokesman.
He would be the country’s first Indian-American surgeon general.
This article was updated at 4:35 p.m. ET to mention that the NRA plans to score the vote.