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.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.