The Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed the nomination of Regina Benjamin to serve as surgeon general.The move comes after a day during which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pleaded with Republicans to reach an agreement to consider a host of nominees. Republicans, saying they want time to debate, have opposed moving ahead on Health and Human Services nominees over a gag order on insurance companies critical of Democratic-led health care reform legislation. With Benjamins approval Thursday evening, that stalemate appears to have been broken.As we move in Congress to enact health reform that puts a sharp new emphasis on keeping Americans healthy, rather than treating them once they become ill, it is reassuring to know that we have a Surgeon General who will back our efforts at the highest levels of public health, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said in a statement. Harkin's panel approved Benjamins nomination Oct. 7.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.